Toxic Soil Case Hearing Next Week
Soet made his decision in response to a request for a preliminary injunction that was filed with him by the Local Area Watch (LAW).
LAW, a nonprofit organization formed by its executive director William Tingley III, had requested the injunction against several parties to stop what it called the release of hazardous waste from the old water filtration plant at 1430 Monroe Ave. NW, and to notify those who may have been exposed to the supposed toxic material of any health risks they may face.
Named in the injunction were the developers of the Boardwalk, the former Berkey and Gay building at 940 Monroe Ave. NW, Fifth Third Bancorp, the city of Grand Rapids and Mayor John Logie, among others.
Tingley has charged that the developers transported soil known to be toxic from the Berkey & Gay renovation site and dumped the dirt into the empty water tanks of the filtration plant nearly two years ago. The plant was once owned by the city.
The developers, two limited liability companies headed by Thomas Beckering, countered that they accidentally removed about six truckloads of dirt from the renovation site to the filtration plant, but then returned the soil to the work site as soon as they realized what had happened.
Tingley has charged the others with assisting the developers in committing the act, one he said violated the state’s environmental laws.
Tingley is general manager of Proto-Cam Inc. Beckering is president of Pioneer Inc.
Soet was to have heard LAW’s request for the preliminary injunction on Friday, July 5. But since the case will likely require expert testimony, the judge moved the hearing to next week because he doesn’t allow witnesses to testify during his regularly scheduled time to hear motions.
In June, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber granted LAW its request for a preliminary injunction against the city. His ruling prevents the city from destroying papers that supposedly relate to the alleged removal of the soil from the work site.
That request came from a Freedom of Information Act suit LAW filed against the city last year. The city told Leiber that the documents sought by LAW were exempt from the FOA law.