Today William Tingley III, executive director of the Local Area Watch, and his co-plaintiffs William Tingley and Daniel Bradley amended their lawsuit in Kent County Circuit Court against local attorneys for fraud on the court to include violations of Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.
The purpose of the amendment was to show that the original allegations of fraud on the court was part of a larger conspiracy to unlawfully remove and dispose of hazardous waste. Judge Soet, in a ruling on Friday, June 7, 2002, gave Tingley and his co-plaintiffs leave to amend their lawsuit. The amended lawsuit is now captioned Tingley v 900 Monroe and includes several new counts and new defendants, including Fifth Third Bancorp, the City of Grand Rapids, and Grand Rapids Mayor John H. Logie.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants conspired to unlawfully remove hazardous waste (in the form of soil contaminated with toxic concentrations of hazardous substances) from the site of the Berkey & Gay Building during its recent redevelopment for commercial and residential uses. Working together, the complaint alleges, the defendants obtained the empty concrete tanks of the old Monroe Avenue water filtration plant as a disposal site for the hazardous waste and then disguised the removal of the hazardous waste as the handling of clean fill so that it would not be subject to costly restraints of the site’s due care plan.
According to Tingley, the uncontrolled removal and disposal of the hazardous waste exposed the workers at the Berkey & Gay site and the neighbors of the water filtration plant to two dozen known contaminants that were present in toxic concentrations in the soil including lead, arsenic, and mercury. Furthermore, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality warned the Berkey & Gay developers that there was a phenanthrene inhalation hazard if workers exposed the contaminated soil to the air.
To stop further release of these contaminants at their current disposal site at the water filtration plant, Tingley and his co-plaintiffs will be seeking an injunction from the court. Specifically, the plaintiffs will ask the court to order the defendants to seal off or completely remove the hazardous waste from the filtration plant and to advise workers, neighbors, and the pubic in general of any risk of exposure that they may have encountered because of the defendants’ reckless handling of this hazardous waste.