Company’s blight bills surpass $100K as residents protest for better protection along Detroit River

Detroit Bulk Storage dock collapse spilled contaminated soil into river

DETROIT – The blight bills for a company along the Detroit River have surpassed $100,000 as residents push for better riverfront protection and a uniform set of rules to prevent another dock collapse from contaminating the water.

The message was loud and clear: Stop shoreline collapses along the Detroit River and protect the water. That’s what Detroit residents said Tuesday as they pushed for a new ordinance.

The new ordinance would set uniform rules on how riverfront business is done and how the properties are inspected. It would prevent another dock collapse like the one that happened three months ago and spilled contaminated soil into the river.

Revere Dock, which owns the land, and Detroit Bulk Storage, which leases the property, have been told to remove the materials off that site that caused the mess. The Local 4 Defenders have learned the material is being removed, but it’s not all gone.

The companies owe $111,240 in fines. Meanwhile, the public outcry is growing.

Armed with protest signs by the Spirit of Detroit, residents and environmental groups want to be heard.

“The city of Detroit can do more to protect our drinking water,” said Justin Onwenu, from Sierra Club.

“This is not a Detroit problem, this is a regional problem,” resident Theresa Landrum said.

The group filled a city council meeting Tuesday, pushing for a Detroit River protection ordinance that would increase oversight and accountability along the river. It would require a waterfront operation certificate and a baseline environmental assessment. Legislation would also require the city to conduct annual seawall inspections.

“This legislation would make the process more transparent,” City Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda-López said. (It would provide) access to the water testing that has been done, to see the results, to know what type of entities are working the riverfront and what kind of materials are being stored there."

The Local 4 Defenders have learned the city has issued 152 property owners letters requiring an engineering evaluation of the seawall. Of the 152 owners, only nine have shared current engineering evaluations and seven have committed to completing the evaluations.

“Our riverfront has companies with seawalls that are hundreds of years old,” said Nick Leonard, the executive director of the Great Lake Environmental Law Center. “This is a severe threat to the river and drinking water.”

Local 4 has learned Revere Dock paid its outstanding drainage bill of $43,000.

The company’s third attempt to submit a remediation plan has not been approved by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Revere Dock has installed some erosion control blanketing along the bank failure area to prevent more contaminated soil from going into the water.

Tuesday’s ordinance will take a few months to go over before any decision is made.

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