FLAT ROCK, Mich. – Officials with the United States Environmental Protection Agency measured the levels of toxic benzene gas house-by-house Thursday in Flat Rock.
The gas came from an underground fuel leak at a nearby Ford Motor Company plant.
More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated in parts of Flat Rock as the EPA continues testing.
Jerry Clark was in charge of installing the gasoline pipes and tanks at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant. He said when there was a leak, the alarm should have immediately gone off.
“I’ve been a pipe fitter for 43 years,” Clark said. “I’ve worked 110,000 manhours. I run just about every big job in Michigan and Wayne County.”
Clark said he was shocked when a leak from the Flat Rock plant somehow found its way from the plant and into the sewer system. He said he installed the fiberglass gas lines at the plant years ago and that the pressurized pipeline is buried about four feet deep. The double-walled pipe was built to never leak as it has gas pumped into the plant to fill new cars.
After years of use, there was a leak, but an alarm should have alerted Ford right away.
“If anything leaked, it should have set off an alarm,” Clark said. “It is like having an alarm in your house, somebody breaks in and the alarm goes off.”
Clark wants to know how long the leak allowed gasoline to escape and let toxic benzene fumes inside homes in Flat Rock. Ford said they found the leak the day after state inspectors were in the plant Wednesday. It took an anonymous tip to send inspectors back in.
“When I was there, there was only one place you could get gasoline, that was over the pit. If they had a leak some other place to do that much damage, it’s hard to believe,” Clark said. “I don’t understand it if it was a tank leak or a pipe leak, that was negligence on somebody’s part.”
Clark said he’s surprised so much fuel was able to leak from the pipe, turning so many lives upside down.