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DEQ: Douglas improperly dumped dredged mud

6:21 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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Douglas, Mich. (April 5, 2013)

DOUGLAS, Mich. (WZZM) - A WZZM 13 On Your Side investigation is looking into dredging material improperly dumped in the city of Douglas.

One week ago, city officials told WZZM 13, it wasn't a concern and not a story. However, now the Department of Environmental Quality says it is a concern and the city will be getting a violation notice.

At first, city leaders didn't want cameras rolling, while representatives from the DEQ showed the problem.

"I want to have a conversation with him (DEQ representative) first before you film anything," says Ryan Kilpatrick, with the Planning and Zoning Department in Douglas.

The DEQ says the dredged material, which was dumped onto city land, began spilling down a hill into a nearby pond.

"The material was pretty liquid when it was put up there and there wasn't anything to contain it, so it washed down the hill," says Kameron Jordan, a representative with the Department of Environmental Quality.

The city does have a permit, but the DEQ says the material wasn't handled properly. WZZM 13 contacted the private contractor who was in charge of the job and he admitted that in hindsight, he should have used a berm to contain the area.

"Yeah, definitely this could have been done better," says Kilpatrick.

Last week, WZZM 13 contacted City Manager Bill LeFevere. He explained how there was no reason for concern, saying it was "not a story."

WZZM 13 asked Kilpatrick if he believes the incident is something the public would want to know about and he replied, "I think that's up to you."

Although the material tested negative for contaminants, the DEQ says it still poses a threat to wildlife.

"If the material washes in and fills the pond, then that's a loss of habitat," says Jordan.

Now, DEQ representatives want all the material pushed back up the hill and properly contained. The DEQ normally gives 30 days to fix a violation, but representatives say in this case the department wants the city to act much quicker, because spring rain will make the situation worse.

Officials estimate the material that has to be moved is about a foot deep.

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