Canadian Waste in Michigan
In 1986, a waste treaty between Canada and the U.S. was signed by American lawmakers concerning the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste. Under the terms of this treaty, the EPA is to receive notification of these shipments, and then would have 30 days to consent or object to the shipment. Since 1986 Canada has shipped its garbage to Michigan to be dumped into landfills and the provisions of this treaty have never been enforced. But now is the time for them to be enforced and stop the importing of Canada's garbage.
As of January 1, 2003, the Canadian city of Toronto, Ontario started to ship one hundred percent of its garbage into the landfills of Michigan. In 2003, Toronto exported garbage at a rate of 7.2 tons per minute. Garbage trucks from Toronto run seven days a week twenty-four hours a day, so at the rate of 7.2 tons per minute it works out to be that Michigan imports 10,368 tons of Toronto's garbage per day. But it wasn't always like this, Governor John Engler and his administration turned garbage into a growth industry. The state lowered the liability standards for landfill owners and also provided tax-free financing for new facilities. The result of these changes lead to too many landfills and not enough garbage to fill them. So the landfill owners lowered their prices and searched even harder for garbage. Today, Michigan's private landfills charge ten to fifteen dollars per ton to dump while other landfill owners in neighboring states charge twenty five to fifty dollars per ton. Toronto did the math and realized that it is cheaper to haul its garbage 300 miles and dump it in Michigan then it is to dump it close to home. And on top of that, Michigan has eliminated funds for recycling initiatives and is now the third largest importer of trash. Toronto's trash isn't being dumped in a remote part of the state either. Carleton Farms Landfill in Sumpter Township in southwest Wayne County, where the population is 11,856, receives one hundred percent of Toronto's garbage. Our laws that Michigan implies on our garbage do not imply on Toronto's garbage. Our laws prohibit us from discarding bottles and cans but allow Toronto and others from out of state to do it. Another problem with importing trash is the havoc it wreaks on our roads. Toronto does not pay so much as a nickel for repairing the roads that it destroys. The constant flow of trucks creates both noise and air pollution and also lowers property values. Although American lawmakers have decided to enforce the treaty from 1986, politicians in Lansing, Michigan and Washington still have not found a way to ban imported waste that doesn't violate the international treaty or does not unconstitutionally restrain trade.
Inspections of the garbage trucks, however, have been stepped-up since January 1, 2003. The Department of Environmental Quality conducts inspections at the border, which include radioactive detecting equipment, and...