Trial held as Madison Heights fights to get condemned building demolished

Gary Sayers owned Electro-Plating Services

Officials say Sayers transported waste from Madison Heights to a Detroit building.
Officials say Sayers transported waste from Madison Heights to a Detroit building.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – A trial was held Tuesday as Madison Heights sues a businessman to get a condemned building torn down.

The city is suing Gary Sayers to get the Electro-Plating Services building on 10 Mile Road demolished.

The business was the site of a massive cleanup in 2016 due to improperly stored hazardous waste. Sayers is currently in prison in connection with the storage of that waste.

MORE: Discovery of substance on I-696 leads to multi-county contamination investigation

The business had been cited by state officials for lack of compliance for nearly two decades before it was finally permanently closed after the complaints received in 2016.

An investigation has been underway since a green substance, identified as hexavalent chromium, was found on I-696 last month, near the Electro-Plating Services building.

In court Tuesday, it was revealed that the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy knew Sayers was illegally transporting hazardous waste from the Madison Heights business to the Commonwealth Industry building in Detroit. A violation was issued regarding this in 2005.

Alexandra Lynn Clark, the enforcement manager for materials with EGLE, said there were more than 500 drums of hazardous materials identified that had been transported from Madison Heights to Detroit.

A Detroit fire inspector was at the Commonwealth building Jan. 7 in connection with the contamination investigation after receiving a tip that Sayers may have stored hazardous chemicals there.

Crews went inside the building Friday and discovered several 8-foot by 10-foot concrete pits that contain a substance that appears to be the same one found on I-696 late last year.

While in court, Sayers’ attorney mentioned a cease and desist order that demanded he stop running the Electro-Plating Services business. According to the attorney, Sayers was ordered to address issues by a certain date, but before he could do so, the cease and desist was given. The attorney said this violated Sayers’ rights.

The EGLE responded to this, saying that it was two different issues. It said it wanted Sayers to address hazards at the building, but that, based on prior violations, the business was too far gone.

It was questioned in court how contamination leaked onto the freeway from the building if the Environmental Protection Agency had cleaned up the site several years ago.

“Because of the amount of drainage and contents of contaminants in that pit over 30-odd years, would lend itself to the building materials themselves becoming substantially contaminated, and those things weren’t removed” Clark said. “That residual contamination can reenter or become mobilized by groundwater flow into the building.”

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.