Keep Out

THE U.S. SENATE CONTINUES to discuss a bill passed in April by the House that would give states the authority to control or ban international waste. H.R. 518, the International Solid Waste Importation Management Act of 2007, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich, and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.

The same bill was introduced in 2006, but failed to pass the Senate. Sylvia Warner, press secretary for Rogers, who has introduced similar legislation every year since 2001, says there's more optimism this time around. “There have been documented cases of Canadian trash trucks bringing hazardous waste, medical waste and illegal drugs into Michigan,” Rogers said in a press release. “There is no possible way to monitor such huge amounts of garbage and the potential for an environmental disaster or a national security breach causes us great concern.”

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reports that Canadian waste comprises 19.5 percent of the solid waste disposed of in Michigan landfills during the fiscal year 2007. Imported waste from Canada has increased by nearly 10 million cubic yards over the past decade. Canadian officials have already taken steps to reduce the amount of waste exported to Michigan.

In a floor statement to Congress, Dingell said, “the 300 to 400 trucks of waste that cross the bridges every day from Canada into Michigan are more than just a nuisance. The trucks and the cargo pose an environmental risk, a security risk, a potential hazard to health, and are a detriment to our roads.”

Opponents point out that a Michigan ban of the nearly 4 million tons of Canadian waste imported every year could prompt retaliations that could hurt U.S. businesses.