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Recent news reports revealed that Michigan was planning to accept nearly 36 tons of radioactive waste other states rejected. Even worse, it was headed for a landfill right in our backyards in Wayne County. Like many of you, we were deeply disturbed by this news. With our state being surrounded by 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, welcoming this type of toxic waste is far from acting as the good stewards of the environment we should be; it’s reckless behavior that defies logic and endangers us all.

At a time when states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are tightening regulations on how this hazardous material is stored and disposed of, Michigan still allows it to end up in our landfills. This has led these other states to look to Michigan as the final destination for the radioactive sludge their own citizens do not want jeopardizing their land and water. The threats that this incredibly dangerous waste can pose to Michigan’s environment, our water supply, our economy and our health are simply too steep to risk.

On the heels of these new findings, Gov. Rick Snyder announced that he is forming a nine-person panel to review the issue, but that is not the answer to the problem. It should not take nine bureaucrats gathered around a table to conclude that this waste has no business in Michigan. This is an instance where actions truly speak louder than words.

That is precisely why we teamed up and introduced new legislation to put a stop to this dangerous practice once and for all. Our legislation would ban the disposal of certain types of out-of-state radioactive waste and prevent it from being disposed of in Michigan landfills. Period. This legislative fix will help prevent Michigan from becoming a dumping ground for other states’ rejected waste. We don’t want the Great Lakes State to become the nation’s Great Waste State.

While the potential problems that could stem from this waste might be complex, the bottom line should be simple: Michiganders do not want radioactive sludge in our communities. If we do not take meaningful and swift action now that the problem has been brought to light, we are afraid that the very real risks associated with this waste will be realized, and the potential damage could be far too great for us to undo.

We want Michigan to be a sought after destination for families and entrepreneurs—not radioactive waste. We hope that citizens across Michigan will join us in calling on the Legislature and Governor Snyder to address this serious issue by moving our legislation and taking a firm stand against radioactive waste in our state.

Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, and Rep. Dian Slavens, D-Canton.

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