MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Crews in Madison Heights are planning to take soil samples to learn more about the green chemical ooze along I-696.
Officials said they hope soil samples will tell them where the contaminate is and how it is moving. Then, they can determine what to do next.
With snow and colder weather on the horizon, it’s even more important to have more people at the site to make sure nothing is freezing and the sump pump is working, authorities said.
A tarp has been placed on the pump as protection, officials said.
Officials feared Sunday rain would make situation worse
The Environmental Protection Agency brought extra crews to Madison Heights to try to prevent the ooze from spreading into the sewer system and Lake St. Clair.
On Sunday barricades were surrounding the site where the green substance identified as hexavelent chromium was found seeping onto I-696.
It is a major concern city leaders are trying to address in Madison Heights.
“Our drinking water is safe. There’s no contaminants out there. Everything that I have heard about this chemical is if you touch it, that’s where the concern is," said Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem, Roslyn Grafstein.
Precautions are being taken to prevent the rain from making the situation worse.
“Heavy rain could possibly impact the water levels at the site which is why it’s important that we have a sump pump operating at the site which will be able to collect contaminated water from inside the facility," said Jill Greenberg of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great lakes and Energy.
Crews will also be vacuuming nearby catch basins daily and monitoring the air inside of the facility.
“We will have additional personnel on hand at the site. We’re preparing not only for rain but also for cold weather and snow," Greenberg added.
Working toward next steps
Though officials believe the substance isn’t dangerous for people, it does threaten the environment.
“We are concerned and we’re going to be on top of it, this is something that the state and federal agencies are working on," said Grafstein.
The state is waiting for data from more tests to determine the next steps.
On Sunday Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller released a statement on the contamination site. The statement can be read below.
"Sunday’s rainfall brings into sharp focus the danger to our Great Lakes and drinking water system from a contaminated business in Madison Heights that leached Chromium-6 and other chemicals onto I-696 and its underground drainage system. All storm water in metro Detroit is either absorbed into the ground or eventually ends up in Lake St. Clair or another portion of the Great Lakes system.
We are all watching closely now as we are eager to see what steps are made to clean up this mess at the former Electro-Plating Services building in Madison Heights. The owner of this business has already been sentenced to prison for his abuse of the environment with these chemicals. It is clear from the current situation that either the federal EPA or the state EGLE did not adequately follow through with the initial clean up. Both agencies need to ensure that this clean up is done right, to ensure the safety of the surrounding community and to ensure this material does not enter the lake.
The reality is, we don’t know how long these chemicals are leaking and so we don’t know where they may have traveled. But we know it has to stop now. EGLE and EPA have to step up to protect our communities and our lake," said Miller in the statement.
Miller added that she’s concerned about a recent statement put out by EGLE, stating that the Chromium-6 or other chemicals from the Madison Heights location will not present a health issue to Lake St. Clair.
“Dilution is not a solution and that is not the correct response,” Miller said.