Crews continue to clean toxic green ooze on I-696 amid pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, crews are still working on cleaning up the toxic green ooze that leaked onto I-696.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, crews are still working on cleaning up the toxic green ooze that leaked onto I-696.

Update June 11, 2020: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 59,496; Death toll now at 5,738

While work continues, the way the Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy have been working has had to change due to coronavirus, but the cleanup never stopped.

Since the pandemic began, new precautions were put in place to make sure those working to clean up the ooze were safe at all times. Those precautions include limiting staff to three people working, defining work spaces to prevent contact and adding a second trailer to maintain social distancing.

Another change is the location of the man at the center of the controversy. Gary Sayers was transferred from the Federal Correctional Institution Morgantown Kennedy Center in West Virginia to the supervision of the Detroit Residential Reentry program.

The legal battle between Madison Heights and Sayers is ongoing. According to court documents, Sayers’ attorneys are fighting the order to have the building torn down and the ruling that Sayers be held financially responsible.

In November 2019, Sayers was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after he pleaded guilty to storing hazardous waste without a permit.

At Electro-Plating Services, inspectors found an estimated 5,000 containers of hazardous waste and materials that were improperly stored, unlabeled, open and corroded or in very poor condition.

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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.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.