43ºF

MDEQ investigates possible in-home air contamination in Livingston County

Homeowners concerned about health effects of contamination

GREEN OAK TOWNSHIP, Mich. – There are new concerns in Green Oak Township that a known carcinogen might have contaminated the air.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is investigating underground plumes in Brighton and Green Oak Township.

Geologists are worried that after the groundwater was contaminated, the chemical trichloroethylene might be affecting air quality.

Carol Miller has lived in her home in Green Oak Township for more than 60 years, and she blames her family's ongoing health issues on contamination.

"Everybody that's lived here has died of cancer and neurological (problems)," Miller said.

Miller's family used to grow their own vegetables in the backyard, which is next to the plant that contaminated their groundwater.

"It's devastating," Miller said. "I, in my heart, believe it's a factor in the loss of my family."

MDEQ officials said the old Haig manufacturing plant released a plume of toxins into the groundwater.

"The plume goes under US-23, under Green Oak Village Mall," Green Oak Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles said.

Drinking water has never been affected, but as a precaution, in 2004, the township switched residents to the Brighton municipal water supply, officials said.

There are now new concerns that the carcinogen trichloroethylene might be affecting the air inside people's homes.

Within a few weeks, the MDEQ will begin collecting soil gas vapor samples.

"There might not be a plume there," MDEQ Project Manager Emily Peabody said. "We don't know yet. It's literally just begun."

The old Haig plant is still operating, but every owner since the contamination was discovered has been barred from developing in the southeast corner. Miller is worried she'll never be able to leave.

"I can't ethically sell my house to anybody knowing that there's problems," Miller said.

The investigation in Green Oak Township is preliminary. MDEQ officials don't know if the air has been contaminated, but they are investigating after a similar plume in Brighton contaminated the air in at least five homes.

The separate investigation has also expanded to include more homes.


About the Authors: