WARREN (WWJ) – Warren Mayor Jim Fouts is concerned about “illegal dumping” in a landfill under Freedom Hill that he says could cause environmental issues.
Fouts spoke to WWJ’s Laura Bonnell a couple of hours after Macomb County leadership urged Fouts to explain an ominous Facebook post that warned of a brewing scandal that could be a “mini version of what happened in Flint.”
Fouts wants to reassure residents that there’s nothing wrong with the water in Warren or in Macomb County at this time.
“What I had found out is that an excavating company illegally dumped upwards of 200,000 yards of excavation at the site (Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights). It might be as little as 150,000; it might be 200,000,” Fouts said, adding that no permits to dump were issued by the South Macomb Disposal Authority (SMDA) or the DEQ.
Fouts said an “irresponsible” decision was made, pipes were broken and trees were destroyed. “Now seven locations along the berm are leaking leachate (liquid that moves through or drains from a landfill) and that was my concern about water.”
Fouts said Warren “will not pay one red cent” to fix the problem.
“This is going to cost the taxpayers maybe up to a million dollars to clean up. It has potential damage to the Red Run (drain) and the Clinton River and maybe even the lake,” Fouts said. “And, obviously, if the wasn’t remediated it would be mean dangers posed to homes in the surrounding area.”
Fouts earlier in the day was scolded by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel who accused the mayor of “creating hysteria” with mysterious Facebook posts that warned of an expensive “environmental disaster” brewing in the county.
“I have refused to blame anybody. I just — last night in a post after I heard about it — said there’s a looming problem,” Fouts said. He added,”Somenody made a horrific decision that has potential costs and could’ve had potential environmental issues.”
Fouts said he’s disappointed in Hackel, who called the mayor’s post “deplorable.”
The mayor said the post in question appeared only on his “personal Facebook” page, stressing that he did not issue a press release or official statement until Hackel forced him to respond.
“I did get an angry message from the county executive at 5:30 this morning that I would…regret stating that,” Fouts said. “I never mentioned his name, nor did I mention this specific thing; I just said this is a concern. Nor did I say there was a water problem. I never said that.”
Fouts said Hackel — who was upset by the many calls his office has received from worried residents who saw the post — is overreacting.
“It appears that he’s trying to deflect from the responsibility that he has as the county exec,” Fouts said. “…I don’t know whether he’s responsible or he isn’t, but it appears to me that he didn’t like the message, so he’s shooting the messenger.”
Fouts said he got his information from an SMDA official who prefers to remain anonymous.
He said he will not be speaking to Hackel, explaining that he didn’t appreciate the executive’s “threatening” phone call.