2017-04-23 / Insight

DEQ official: Agency ready to act on environmental emergencies

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 •

LANSING — Be it environmental emergencies related to air, land, or water, the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality wants everyone to know they’re ready to handle what comes their way.

So said Ryan Blazic, emergency response coordinator for water resources division of the DEQ, who urges people to call the department’s emergency hotline if they suspect damage to the environment is taking place.

Called Pollution Emergency Alerting System (PEAS), the hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The idea, Blazic said, is that anyone at any time can call to report suspected issues related to all things environmental.

That includes air, land, water, groundwater, wetlands, dams, landfills, hazardous or radioactive materials, mines, public drinking water, oil and gas wells, nuclear power plants and more.

“Once someone calls PEAS, we have dispatchers on call who take down the information, and forward it to district staff across the state,” Blazic said. “At that point, we determine what the appropriate response should be.”

The PEAS hotline is 800-292-4706.

According to the website, PEAS “serves to receive information about environmental incidents into the DEQ, via the hotline number.”

“PEAS then distributes that information to appropriate staff internally, as well as to contacts in partner agencies, such as Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan State Police, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, and Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services,” the site state.

Blazic said the initial response will include collecting as much information as possible from the person filing the complaint. He urges those calling the line to have as much information about suspected emergencies as possible.

“Some incidents we can handle by the phone, or by working with local law enforcement,” he said. “Some we will handle in person, depending on the severity, and require the responsible party to take action to clean up.”

PEAS has been in place since 1975.

Blazic reminds users that the PEAS hotline is for suspected emergencies only, such as tanker accidents, pipeline breaks, “and other releases of hazardous materials to land, water, or air.”

The non-emergency number to call for information about things like MDEQ programs and regulations 800- 662-9278.

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