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3 businesses now cleared to open after chemical concerns at Franklin Village Plaza

Storage tank of chemicals removed from crawl space beneath building

FRANKLIN, Mich. – An additional business has been cleared to reopen at the Franklin Village Plaza after the removal of chemicals found in the crawl space beneath the building.

A mandatory evacuation was issued for the five businesses in the plaza, but Franklin Nail and Spa and Franklin Cleaners were made available to open last week. On Wednesday, Tailoring and More is also allowed to open.

The mandatory evacuation order has been downgraded to a voluntary evacuation order for Fritz and Friends and Village Boutique, but the Oakland County Health Division strongly recommends that the businesses stay closed until there are satisfactory air quality test results.

Air quality testing will continue for the next several days.

All businesses in the Franklin Village Plaza are required to use temporary air filtration devices 24 hours a day until a permanent system is installed. Air quality monitoring with continue in the coming months.

Chemicals identified

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality identified the chemicals found in a storage tank underneath Franklin Village Plaza.

Officials said they found tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and petroleum byproducts associated with the previous dry cleaner and gas station that were located on the property.

The MDEQ emptied the chemicals from the tank. The top half of the tank was removed while the bottom half was left in place and filled in to maintain structural integrity, officials said.

MDEQ will collect soil, groundwater and vapor samples over the coming months to make sure the area is safe. Air scrubbers will run inside the businesses to further safeguard indoor air until a permanent mitigation system is installed.

Business owners demand answers

After being forced to close due to concerns about chemicals, business owners in Franklin demanded answers about the situation.

Results came back at 4 p.m. March 12 on the volatile chemicals found in a storage tank. As officials expected, it was PCE once used by dry cleaners and old fuel oil. It will be removed from the strip mall.

But business owners past and present at the plaza wanted answers at a village meeting.

The Franklin Council meeting was standing room only as questions about contamination were answered by the Department of Environmental Quality and the county Health Department.

"We have an emergency plan," Kim Eldridge, of the Department of Environmental Quality, said.

Questions were emotional and angry as business owners wondered who knew what.

"I am actually so livid after that meeting," former business owner Lauren Slutsky said.

Village officials said they learned of the contamination this month, but the Department of Environmental Quality said the current owner knew in 2010 when she did her due diligence in buying the property.

"Knowing that the building that I rented was contaminated in 2010, she knew the groundwater and soil was contaminated and decided to keep it to herself," Slutsky said.

"I have students, young girls, working for me who can have babies, and now I'm worried for them," Jane Depotter, of Fritz and Friends, said. "They have been exposed to these chemicals."

Fritz and Friends is where the contamination was highest, and the owner said she doesn't see how they can stay open. She plans to close the business.