- Failure to obtain a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) before a local contractor was allowed to dump 150,000 yards of dirt at the closed Freedom Hill landfill has led to an estimated $500,000 in damage at the site, as reported by Macomb Daily News.
- Macomb County hired an excavation company to do work on the parking lot at Freedom Hill — which is now a park and event space — but didn't take into account the effects of dumping the dirt. About 40 gas monitoring wells and 110 trees were damaged by the weight. Leachate has also begun to leak out, though doesn't pose an immediate hazard to local waterways.
- Engineers say the area now needs to be excavated and filled with certified clean clay to stop the leak. The gas vents must also be replaced and the berm slope will need to be regraded. County officials say they don't think taxpayers should have to cover the costs.
While the site closed in the 1960s, it wasn't outfitted with modern post-closure technology until after a 2005 settlement between the South Macomb Disposal Authority and the state attorney general's office. This is seen as the point when the state gained jurisdiction over the site which is why DEQ should have been consulted for a permit. Until a local mayor raised concerns about the incident on Facebook, authorities weren't aware of the issue and it likely would have continued.
This particular situation is unique, but it shows the importance of consulting with state agencies on any work around closed landfills as they can be sensitive to disruption. Even though these landfills can sometimes be given second lives as building sites or parks, they can require work many years after closure. One Indiana city recently learned this when a site that it built a golf course next to decades ago started showing signs of erosion which may require $6 million in repairs.
Macomb County also has been dealing with the continued fall-out from a federal corruption probe into officials allegedly receiving bribes from an unnamed company which is believed to be Rizzo Environmental Services. A third local official was arrested last week as part of the investigation and multiple townships have been rethinking their collection contracts.