New and alarming questions are being raised about a dump that was once considered the most dangerous in the nation, the Flint Journal reports. Berlin & Farro Liquid Incineration Inc. dumped toxic waste and sludge at its facility in Gaines Township, Mich. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the dump’s operator buried toxic waste, dumped liquid waste into agricultural drains and operated unauthorized and unlined storage lagoons.
In 1975, it lost its license to operate a landfill — but that didn’t stop it from dumping toxic waste. In 1983, the area was so toxic that about 170 residents were evacuated from their homes for up to a month for clean up. In 1984, doctors determined that five residents suffered mild to severe damage to multiple organs because of the contamination. More than $25 million was spent on clean up. In 1996, according to EPA records, testing revealed the area was safe for unrestricted use with a “one-in-a-million risk of contamination.”
But one family that lives a quarter mile from the dump doesn’t believe it. About eight months ago, Ron Voelker, 36, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of liver cancer. A little more than a week ago, his daughter, Shyra, 18, was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. The Voelker family didn’t know about the neighborhood’s toxic past when they moved into their home about three-and-a-half years ago. The Voelkers believe that the ground water well they drank from caused the cancers. They plan to file suit against government officials and others responsible for the contamination. Both state and federal environmental officials say they plan to test the Voelker’s ground water for contamination.