A local company apparently dropped its plans to pump landfill waste into an underground injection well in southern Grand Traverse County.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials recently informed Mayfield Township leaders that a Kalkaska company withdrew its application to reclassify an underground injection well to accept leachate from Glen's Landfill in Leelanau County.
The well takes brine water generated in natural gas production and is located near Miller Road and M-37 near Kingsley.
"This is a clear victory for the residents of Mayfield Township," said Phil Scott, chairman of the Mayfield Township Planning Commission. "There was clear opposition to it."
The withdrawal ends a protracted community debate over Team Completion LLC's injection well, a contentious matter that goes back more than two years. The EPA held a public hearing in April 2010 that was attended by hundreds of residents, most of whom opposed the plan.
Many residents voiced concerns about what might happen to nearby groundwater sources if the company was allowed to inject landfill waste water into the well.
In October, EPA officials said the company asked the review process be put "on hold" for six months. A message seeking comment was left Thursday with Team Completion.
Township officials used the EPA's review period to create an ordinance that governs Class I injection disposal wells. Officials required a special use permit for such projects and mandated well operators submit an annual report with an analysis of chemicals and volume of waste disposed in such wells. Operators also are required to allow the township to randomly test the waste stream.
Scott suspects the township's new regulations played a role in Team Completion's decision to drop the permit application.
"I think the ordinance definitely made an impact," he said.
Scott said the ordinance is among the first of its kind in Michigan and hopes other municipalities consider similar regulations for such disposal wells. Tighter rules could lead to landfill and other industrial waste being routed through Grand Traverse County's septage treatment plant in Garfield Township. The plant is operating at a projected annual deficit that exceeds $500,000, in part because it's not taking in as much waste as expected.
"There are other injection wells in the county," Scott said. "You at least put in place an alternative form of revenue for the septage (plant)."