What is a deepwell injection facility?
Like the hundreds of other industrial wells in the US, the Detroit Industrial Well facility, which consists of two Class I underground injection wells, allow for the injection of liquid waste from municipal solid waste landfills and industrial facilities more than 4,500 feet below the lowermost groundwater drinking zone. The wells are designed and constructed to inject the waste into deep, isolated, porous formations that have impermeable, confining geological structures to prevent the migration of the waste so that underground sources of drinking water are protected.
Who permits and inspects the facility?
The Detroit Industrial Well facility operates under permits issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The wells are permitted and regulated by EPA, through its Underground Injection Controls (UIC) program, and EGLE through its Mineral Wells program. Click here to read our permits.
Both the EPA and EGLE have the right to inspect the facility to ensure compliance with all the regulations, permits, and license but EGLE performs the majority of the inspections. Both agencies receive operations and compliance reports.
Who owns and operates the Detroit Industrial Well?
Republic Industrial and Environmental Services (RIES), a subsidiary of Republic Services purchased the facility in 2019. RIES provides the technical, regulatory and operational expertise to provide a wide array of environmental services, including remediation and spill containment, field industrial services, sanitation services, strategic waste program management and more. RIES operates hand-in-hand with Republic’s Energy Services and is headquartered in Houston, Texas, RIES has owned or operated over 15 deep injection wells in the United States.
What safeguards are in place to protect the environment?
The safeguards start well before any well is drilled or facility is constructed. An applicant to develop a Class 1 hazardous waste injection well is has to undertake a detailed study of the geology to ensure the injection zone will contain and confine all the wastewater injected. It must be stable and well below any USDW’s. Injection wells have had to demonstrate that the wastewater will not migrate from the injection zone for 10,000 years or will no longer be hazardous when, if ever, it leaves the injection zone. Once the well is drilled, extensive testing has to be conducted to ensure that the well and geological conditions are consistent with the design and demonstrations.
Once in operation, this Class I facility injects liquid wastes through one of two injection wells positioned more than 4,500 feet below the surface. The wells are constructed with safeguards to ensure environmental protection, including:
- Multiple barrier casings of concrete and steel;
- Pressurized seals to continuously monitor annulus fluids;
- Sealed rock to pack the bottom of the Well;
- Continuous monitoring with advanced technology;
- Regularly scheduled mechanical integrity testing; and
- Regular inspections by state and federal regulators.
In addition, the facility
- Ensures each waste stream that enters the facility matches a specific pre-assigned profile, and passes multiple testing and sampling checkpoints in the on-site lab before disposal;
- License and permits regulate that all waste is properly stored, processed, and treated, if necessary; plus, all the surface tanks involved in the management of hazardous waste operate under stringent requirements in license and permits.
- Has established and maintains detailed safety, emergency preparedness and spill containment plans;
- Provides employee training and maintains strict policies to ensure compliance with all state and federal permits, statutes and regulations
How much waste is accepted?
The facility is permitted to accept 87 million gallons of liquid waste each year.
What types of wastes are accepted at the Industrial Well?
If you look around the area, many of the industries that you see generate a variety of liquid waste, hazardous and non-hazardous, that can safely be processed and injected at the facility. Typically, petroleum refining, metal production and plating, chemical production, pharmaceutical production, commercial disposal, food production, and municipal wastewater treatment use deepwell injection to dispose of the waste produced to deliver the products and services we use every day.
One of the more significant reasons Republic acquired the facility is to dispose of leachate and other regulated liquids from its Michigan landfills. All the precipitation and liquids that filter through the trash and waste in the landfills has to be properly disposed. Republic wants to ensure that it has a long-term and reliable disposal option available and this facility can provide this option. In the beginning, the facility will be almost totally dedicated to disposing of these liquids. Once we have ensured we meet our landfills’ needs, we will then consider what other waste streams will be accepted.
Where does the liquid waste go once it’s injected?
All liquid waste disposed of at the Detroit Industrial Well facility is injected more than 4,500 feet below the surface into a thick layer of a confined sandstone rock formation. The injection zone is well defined through extensive testing and the well is constructed to ensure that the waste only goes into the defined, permitted injection zone. Constant monitoring of the wells different pressures and operating conditions makes sure that the well is operating properly, or it is shut down.
How do you control odors?
The Detroit Industrial Well facility takes several steps to remain compliant with our air permit and control the potential for off-site odor. All material receiving areas and treatment processes are conducted inside a closed facility, and all liquids storage and process tanks have sealed lids.
How long are the underground injection wells permitted to operate?
In 2011, US EPA issued a second 10-year permit to the Detroit Industrial Well facility. Prior to the permit expiring, additional modeling must be conducted to renew the permit for an additional 10 years.
The facility may operate indefinitely as long as it maintains applicable permits. The state and federal well permits, and state operating license are issued for 10 years and may be renewed as long as the facility meets applicable requirements.
What happens once the Detroit Industrial Well facility stops being used as a disposal option?
Once the facility ceases operation, wells are cemented and fully sealed. The facility is closed in accordance with its closure plan, approved as part of the Facility’s Part 111 operating license. All waste is removed from the facility and disposed of through the deepwells or off site facilities. All tanks, pipes and equipment would be decontaminated, disassembled, and properly disposed, or recycled. The entire site would then be decontaminated to the requirements of federal and state regulation. RIES is also responsible for on sampling and analyzing more than 100 soil and water sampling points around the facility for at least 12 months and thereafter as necessary. If any contamination is found RIES is responsible for the proper clean up and disposal.