City sues companies behind dock collapse that spilled contaminated soil into Detroit River

City of Detroit files lawsuit against Detroit Bulk Storage, Revere Copper

DETROIT – The city of Detroit has filed a lawsuit against the two companies behind a dock collapse that spilled contaminated soil into the Detroit River.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are running their own tests along the river.

The dock collapse linked to Detroit Bulk Storage and Revere Copper happened two months ago. Local 4 Defender Karen Drew has been digging through the lawsuit, which is more than 100 pages long.

Click here to visit our Defending The Environment page.

The lawsuit is filled with violations by the property owners and the company leasing the land. It exposes the way the companies have continued to ignore the city and, as the lawsuit states, puts residents in danger.

“How does a company set up shop in our city, pollute our area and not be held accountable?” Karen asked Dave Bell, the director of the Detroit Building and Safety Engineering Department, two weeks ago.

“Again, there are a lot of things going on in the city of Detroit, and this is one thing we are digging into,” Bell said at the time.

Since then, city officials have found enough wrongdoing to file a lawsuit. It contends the property where a green sinkhole was formed by contaminated soil spilling into the river “remains unsafe, blighted, a public nuisance and a danger to the safety and welfare of the public.”

The lawsuit goes on to say the property "is not permitted,” and “illegally stored aggregate.”

City officials allege there is a “possibility that it may cause a collapse and further contaminate the natural waterway.”

Revere Dock LLC is owned by Steve Erickson. His headquarters are in Muskegon, so the Defenders went there to look for answers.

Local 4 was told he wasn’t at work, and there was no answer at his house on the lake. Calls and emails were also ignored.

That appears to be the way Detroit Bulk Storage and Revere Dock do business. They ignore violations, and since Local 4 began reporting on the story, the companies have racked up some $24,000 in blight violations for operating without a permit.

The companies also have an unpaid $37,350 drainage bill and more than $1,700 in outstanding property taxes.

“It’s also important that the company do what they can as quick as they can to resolve this issue that shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” EGLE spokesperson Nick Assendelft said.

Experts from EGLE have been at the site this week for underwater mapping. They want to see exactly how much contaminated soil has gone into the river.

The company has just installed a 20-foot barrier to prevent more spilling.

The first remediation plan submitted by the companies was deemed inadequate. A second plan was submitted last week, and EGLE officials still haven’t determined whether that plan is good enough. They are getting more opinions on the proposal.

You can view the city’s full lawsuit below.

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.