DETROIT – The Local 4 Defenders have learned a Detroit construction material company has been operating for years without a permit and owes the city $62,000.
A parade of cars arrived Tuesday at the site of Detroit Bulk Storage along the riverfront as state and national environmental officials convened.
There are concerns about the site, the integrity of the shoreline, how the company has operated without a license and who to blame for the situation.
Local 4 Defender Karen Drew was at the scene when workers in neon vests arrived. They’re from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and other consultants. They were there to prepare for site assessments later this month.
Detroit Bulk Storage is a construction material company that leases land from Revere Copper. The problem is that the company has been operating for years without a permit from the city. It’s the same location where a dock collapsed in November, contaminated soil spilled into the river and a huge sinkhole with green water formed.
Karen approached a security guard and asked about the company operating without a permit, but he told her to leave the property. She asked him to call Noel Frye, who is listed in the violation paperwork Local 4 obtained.
Frye told the guard to tell Local 4 he wasn’t interested in an interview.
Hanging from the fence at the location was a city of Detroit blight violation. It said the building, premises or structure had not been maintained in a suitable, sanitary and safe condition. The blight violation was wet and had been sitting on the fence for days.
“They had no permit whatsoever to operate an outdoor storage facility on that property,” said Dave Bell, director of the city’s Building Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.
The Defenders also found a drainage bill showing the company owes more than $62,000.
“How does someone operate a company and not pay their bills?” Karen asked.
“We certainly will ask to be paid if they owe us that amount,” said Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. “However, we found it is in dispute. We want to work with this company."
“This company does not work with people,” Karen said. “They ignore all the citations and violations.”
“If they ignore us, we will take them to court and sue them,” Brown said.
“We brought it to your attention, and at that time, no one knew this bill wasn’t paid,” Karen said. “How does that happen?”
“Well, we have 440,000 accounts in our billing system,” Brown said.
“You get a resident who doesn’t pay their water bill (and) they’re shut off,” Karen said. “You’ve got somebody who owes $62,000 and nobody knows.”
“Again, we are not sure that bill is accurate,” Brown said.
City officials told Local 4 the work that was going on Tuesday at the site has to deal with remediation. Crews are doing prep work for what they need to do later this month, including mapping parts of the river and assessing the shoreline. No soil or groundwater testing was performed Tuesday, officials said. Last week, lead levels in the soil exceeded acceptable guidelines, according to authorities.