City planning to take legal action against companies responsible for contaminated soil spilling into Detroit River

Revere Copper, Detroit Bulk Storage rack up $36,700 in blight violations

DETROIT – Detroit officials are taking legal action against the companies responsible for the dock collapse that spilled contaminated soil into the Detroit River, the Local 4 Defenders have learned.

Those companies have racked up more than $36,700 in blight bills after ignoring the city’s demand to take action in cleaning up the mess.

It’s been eight weeks since the company’s dock collapsed into the Detroit River, spilling soil filled with heavy metals and uranium into the river.

EGLE officials said the companies made the 6 p.m. Friday deadline to submit an adequate remediation plan after the first plan was shot down. Officials are going through the plan now to determine if it will be approved.

Last week, the Defenders reported that the companies would be fined $3,000 a day until they got a permit or corrected the issues from the spill, such as a growing green sinkhole that formed after the dock collapse.

Click here to visit our Defending The Environment page.

As of Friday, $36,700 worth of blight tickets have been issued to the companies.

READ: 192 tickets issued along Detroit riverfront since start of Defenders investigation into spill

Local 4′s numerous attempts to talk to representatives from the companies on camera have been denied.

The Defenders learned the city law department drafted a complaint against Revere Dock, LLC -- the land owner -- and the occupant, Detroit Bulk Storage.

“The suit seeks to redress the nuisance posed by the continued existence of the sinkhole and the sea wall/shore collapse, asking the defendants be required to show cause for their failure to meet the deadlines and requirements imposed by city authorities,” said Tracey Lynn Pearson, Deputy Director of Media Relations for the city.

Local 4 met with Nick Assendelft, of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, in front of the site collecting all the violations.

“This whole situation has been so concerning,” Assendelft said. “We want to make sure that we have a valid plan in place, that we can allay public fears, obviously, about what’s happening at this site.”

The first remediation plan the company sent to EGLE was deemed inadequate.

“We certainly are interested, obviously, in soil contamination,” Assendelft said. “We want to make sure that due care is followed by the companies to make sure that nothing is happening on the site that would jeopardize the health of the river.”

“I think there’s a lot of fear, frustration with how the process (has been) handled,” Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez said. “It’s just crazy to think about such a large chunk of it collapsing and the response just really being inadequate, even still to this day -- and it happened almost a couple of months (ago) now.”

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency will be at the site Monday to conduct intensive and thorough testing, including groundwater testing. A health physicist will scan the entire surface for radiation. A ground-penetrating radar will be used. Results from those tests are expected back in about two weeks.

Since the Defenders sat down with city officials Jan. 13, the city has done 152 inspections along the riverfront and handed out 192 tickets to seven properties, worth a total of $63,125.

About the Authors: