Lawsuit claims Ford spilled 12 million gallons of chemicals underground in Livonia

Residents of Livonia neighborhood file lawsuit against Ford

LIVONIA, Mich. – A chemical spill by Ford is much larger and more troubling than first thought, especially for residents who live nearby in a Livonia neighborhood, new court documents claim

Ford admits there was underground contamination from the plant in the Alden Village subdivision. Conversations between the company and residents started off on the right foot, but it didn't last.

In the summer of 2017, Local 4 cameras were there as Ford-hired chemical testers carried out their work in the neighborhood. Ford paid a $45,000 fine and settled with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in federal court to clean up the neighborhood.

But May arrived and all is quiet, according to Bruce Tenniswood, who is leading the lawsuit charge against Ford.

"I'm furious," Tenniswood said. "I'm tired of this. It's gone on long enough and we're getting absolutely nowhere. This is not fair."

New court documents make startling claims that "Ford has spilled on the order of 12 million gallons of industrial oils and chemicals, including highly toxic chlorinated solvents, on its property -- quite possibly the largest chemical release to land in United States history."

"Ford's attempt to use this court to help it keep secret the fact that Ford knew of this serious contamination decades earlier (in the early 1990s) than it has publicly admitted," lawyers said in the motion.

They claim the attorney general and the MDEQ coordinated with Ford to file a consent suit in federal court to avoid losing control over the cleanup.

"Ford documents improperly designated as confidential show that Ford actually wrote the state's federal court lawsuit against Ford," the lawsuit said.

"All community samples collected to date show no health risk to residents, and drinking water is not at risk," Ford said in its response. "When we discovered the issue, we promptly alerted MDEQ and the plant's neighbors. Throughout this process we have worked to keep the community informed of our progress through mailings, meetings and a dedicated website."

The motion was filed by residents and their attorneys. They want a judge to tell Ford to come clean and take the confidential markings off of much of the hundreds of thousands of documents filed. It was done in the name of keeping competitive secrets, but residents said most of the documents have nothing to do with that.

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.