By Kelsie Patrick
Lansing Township News
LANSING TOWNSHIP — Lansing Charter Township and the Lansing Township Downtown Development Authority have filed a federal lawsuit against the Lansing Board of Water & Light in an effort to force the utility to pay for cleanup of contamination at the North Lansing Landfill.
According to Lansing Township Director of Planning and Development Steve Hayward, the North Lansing Landfill — located north of Groesbeck Golf Course — was used from 1979 to 1995 as a storage place to get rid of ash and coalfrom local power plants.
Before the Board of Water and Light knew storing the coal and ash on landfill grounds would create a contamination of water supply issue for Lansing Township, the Board of Water & Light used an old gravel pit on the landfill grounds to store old coal and dust from the power plants, Hayward said.
According to Hayward, the water table later penetrated the pit and caused a large amount of environmental contamination in North Lansing. The pit also stored stormwater from the entire region, which also became contaminated. The BWL was then forced by Lansing Township to cap and fill the pit, and then pour the waste onto private property, Hayward said.
As a result of the contamination from the Board of Water and Light, in 2013 Ingham County drain commissioner Pat Lindemann attempted to charge Lansing Township $6 million for the repair from all contamination, Hayward said. The township filed suit in May to avoid that payment.
“This lawsuit has been filed to protect the residents of Lansing Township from having to pay moneyfor BWL’s environmental contamination,” Township Supervisor Kathleen Rodgers said.
Rodgers said Lansing Township has decided to file the lawsuit now to protect Township citizens from unfair assessments. By seeking this ruling before assessments become effective, the Township can anticipate and plan for any future costs.
Neither Lindemann nor Board of Water and Light Officials would comment on the lawsuit, which seeks to abate and recover costs caused by BWL’s release of hazardous substances, and contamination of groundwater at the North Lansing Landfill. Overall, this clean-up project would end up costing Lansing Township $13.7 million, according to information provided by the township.
“This is a complicated case, years in the making, and it’s no exaggeration to suggest that its outcome will affect life in Lansing Township and its environs for generations to come,” Steve Hayward, the township DDA director said.
Even though the township acknowledges that there are no further health implications to the contamination, living so close to the site makes some residents uneasy.
“Living on Wood Street where all construction has occurred and leakage has been stored, it’s scary. It’s scary to think that the water I’m drinking could potentially harm me,” MSU student, Alyssa Dal Pra said.