EPA runs more tests at site of dock collapse that spilled contaminated soil into Detroit River

Detroit Bulk Storage was operating without permit, officials say

DETROIT – The search for answers along the Detroit Riverfront continued Monday, nine weeks after a dock collapsed and spilled contaminated soil into the river.

A team from the Environmental Protection Agency spent the day running a variety of tests at the site where Detroit Bulk Storage was leasing land and operating without a permit, according to officials.

Official test results will take two weeks to come in, but Local 4 Defender Karen Drew spoke with some experts at the scene. They were testing radiation levels, and at this point, it appears those levels are considered acceptable and below what people are exposed to in their regular daily lives, they said.

There are still many unanswered questions, though. Is the site safe? Will the soils known to be contaminated continue to spill into the river and ultimately affect the public?

“Downriver intake has been sampled -- sediment samples, Detroit River, embankment and pond -- sampled all those,” EPA on-scene coordinator Brian Kelly said. “Results show there is no threat to the public.”

But even with that information, EPA officials said more testing needs to be done. That’s why they were at the site Monday.

“Today we are coming back and coring down into the ground several feet, collecting soil samples, water samples,” Kelly said. “We are re-sampling the pond just to make sure we have not missed anything.”

The Defenders’ drone spotted a black van going back and forth on the property, testing for radiation.

“This big black box is a big giant detector pack,” EPA health physicist Gene Jablonowski said. “This can tell the difference between uranium metal and uranium.”

EPA officials are also using ground-penetrating radar to find potential basements. The site had a laboratory on it in the 1940s to build uranium rods that were to be used to make the first atomic bomb.

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Probing for the basements is an interesting part of the tests. Many still wonder exactly what was done with the old buildings on the sight that housed the uranium.

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