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EPA coordinator discusses contaminated soil that spilled into Detroit River when dock collapsed

Officials plan to install 20-foot curtain to prevent further erosion into river

DETROIT – An on-scene coordinator with the Environmental Protection Agency is speaking on camera for the first time about possible contamination from a dock collapse along the Detroit River.

The Revere Copper dock collapsed eight weeks ago. On Tuesday, EPA officials were at the site to check on the five-foot silt curtain that’s supposed to keep contaminated soil from spilling into the river. The curtain isn’t doing its job, officials said.

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“It is not efficient," said Brian Kelly, the EPA on-scene coordinator.

Drone video shows a yellow curtain surrounding the site where the dock collapsed.

“There is the potential that that shoreline is continuing to erode,” Kelly said.

The plan from Detroit Bulk Storage and Revere Copper is to install a 20-foot curtain later this week to prevent further erosion into the river. Kelly said that should work.

“We did test the water there," Kelly said. “It is below drinking water standards. We don’t think it presents any unique threats.”

While EPA officials said this isn’t an emergency situation, there’s much more that needs to be done and tested.

The Local 4 Defenders have learned that next week EPA officials will return to the site with a health physicist to scan the entire surface for radiation. They will also do groundwater testing and bring in a ground penetrating radar as they search for basements that might be buried on the site.

“Clearly what’s happened is unacceptable and the owners have to clean it up,” Kelly said. "All evidence we have is it’s not a threat to the wider community.


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