Officials say green contaminant on I-696 is likely headed to Lake St. Clair through storm drains
Macomb County engineers work to stop spread
MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – A substance found seeping onto I-696 in Madison Heights is likely on its way to Lake St. Clair, officials said.
The green ooze, which was discovered on the eastbound side of the freeway Friday, was identified as hexavalent chromium, but official testing results have not yet been returned.
Officials with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy say the substance poses no immediate threat to air or drinking water quality because there are no drinking water wells in the area.
However, the storm drains on the freeway go into the Clinton River, which eventually leads to Lake St. Clair.
According to the EGLE, the “release likely contributed contaminants to the storm sewer system before it was discovered.”
Cleanup crews are working to handle the mess and Macomb County Public Works engineers are trying to prevent more of the substance from making it to the river and lake.
More about the substance
Officials said the substance is coming from the basement of the now-condemned Electro-Plating Services on 10 Mile Road, which was the site of a massive cleanup in 2016 due to improperly stored hazardous waste.
The substance moved from the basement of the business into the ground, where it contaminated groundwater. From there, it made its way to a drain that goes to the freeway.
“We have cleaned out the sewers and the clean out drains between the facility and 696,” said Jill Greenberg, with EGLE. “We’re also in the process of cleaning up the basement of the facility.”
Tricia Edwards, with the Environmental Protection Agency, said the cleanup is going to take time because there is a lot of clay in the area, and the substance is traveling onto the clay.
“The green liquid has significantly impacted the embankment where it came out, so we will be working with partners to see what sort of remediation will be required to clean that up,” Greenberg said.
As of Sunday afternoon, the affected catch basins have been cleaned and are being monitored.
A basement sump is being used collect and remove water from the basement into a portable tank, Greenberg said. She said it reduces the water migrating off site.
It is a temporary system that will remain under oversight from the EPA and EGLE until a long term solution is in place.
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