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Environmental > News Hits

No go, Canflow?


Published 2/27/2002


Waste knot (2/20/02)
Too stinky and dirty for Canada, Canflow Environmental Services regularly dumps wastewater into Detroit sewers, causing plumbing problems and illnesses for nearby residents.

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Residents of Detroit’s Greendale community — near John R and Seven Mile — are hailing a short-term victory in the fight against Canflow Environmental Services, a Canadian firm dumping industrial waste into city sewers. The excitement came on news that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department halted renewal of Canflow’s discharge permit, which expires March 1, until the company provides more information on its operations. The DWSD notice says the city lacks data on the volume, content, treatment and testing of Canflow’s discharges. Monday, about 40 people showed up at St. Rita’s Catholic Church for a press conference. “God does answer prayers,” said community leader Michelle Groves, who worked with resident Vicki Burton to raise awareness about the dumping, which has been going on since 1995. Groves said the struggle has been positive: “I learned a whole lot. I learned how to speak up for our rights.” State Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, was on hand to say he wants to ensure the permit is never granted. “I believe that Canflow is more than a nuisance. It’s a danger to this community, and it’s a danger to families,” Clarke said. Last week, a Metro Times investigation shed light on Canflow, which gathers industrial wastewater containing oils, fuels, metals and chemicals from manufacturing sites throughout Ontario and ships it here. Permitted to discharge as much as 30,000 gallons a day, the company’s dumping can overwhelm the 81-year-old sewer system under the Greendale, causing incredibly malodorous backups in basements, tubs, sinks and toilets. At the press conference, Rhonda Anderson, a Sierra Club environmental justice organizer, and Sandra Turner, an aide to Clarke, said they are petitioning Detroit City Council and DWSD to evaluate the entire industrial discharge program, which allows 400 companies to dump industrial, nonhazardous waste into sewers. The companies share the $12 million cost of the program, and the city doesn’t profit from it. Roshani Deraniyagale, of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, has one idea for council: Require community input before granting industrial discharge permits.

Citizen input — what a concept!

Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or

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