Cleanup of toxic leak on I-696 could take months, officials say

Chemical is known carcinogen, OSHA says

Toxic green slime spilled onto a freeway Friday and investigators are still trying to find out how it happened.
Toxic green slime spilled onto a freeway Friday and investigators are still trying to find out how it happened.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Residents are wondering why more wasn’t done to protect a community after a local business was cited for illegally storing hazardous waste.

A toxic green slime was discovered Friday leaking onto onto I-696. It was identified as hexavalent chromium, but official testing results have not yet been returned.

MORE: Everything we know about the substance found seeping onto I-696

Electro Plating Services in Madison Heights was told to cease operations by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2016 after 5,000 containers of hazardous waste was found inside the business.

At the time, Jeff Lippert with the EPA said it was the worst case he had ever seen. He was working as an on-scene-coordinator. Chemicals were found damaging the concrete in the basement. The EPA said it was an imminent threat to the public’s health and safety.

The site was handed over to state pollution experts to decide what to do next. That’s when things started to get murky.

Local 4 Defenders reached out to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy -- formerly MDEQ -- and was told the agency was not prepared to answer question.

The storm drains in front of the shuttered business on 10 Mile Road were clear Tuesday, the EPA did find the toxic slime in the catch basins along I-696, which lead to the storm sewers. The storm drains on the freeway flow into the Clinton River, which eventually leads to Lake St. Clair.

It’s currently unknown how long the toxic slime had been leaking.

Read more: Substance made famous by Erin Brockovich is what was seeping onto I-696

The EPA are continuing to clean the area and expects to have test results before the weekend.

Gary Sayers, the owner of Electro Plating Services, pleaded guilty to pollution violations in February and is expected to report to federal prison soon.

Authorities said the cleanup could take months and could impact traffic at I-696 and I-75. An earlier estimate on the timeline of the cleanup had already passed.

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

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.