Hank Winchester confronts building owner at center of Madison Heights toxic ooze case

Gary Sayers returns to Madison Heights building site

Gary Sayers returns to Madison Heights toxic ooze site

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – The building owner responsible for the toxic green ooze mess in Madison Heights surprised everyone by returning to the site of the issue, where he was confronted by police and Local 4′s Hank Winchester.

Gary Sayers is accused of creating the mess that cost taxpayers money, forced several investigations and created massive environmental concerns.

For the first time since his release from prison, Sayers has resurfaced. He showed up at the site of the Madison Heights building identified as the source of toxic green ooze that leaked onto the roadway.

“We have been battling this situation for years,” Madison Heights Mayor Roslyn Grafstein said.

City officials have been fighting with Sayers over his property since the mid-90s, and that battle continues to this day. But the city recently received funding with the goal of one day tearing down the building.

“It’s a concern, so having it gone and not having that visual reminder,” Grafstein said. “We’ve been assured everything is safe.”

Sayers and his properties first received widespread public attention with the ooze from his Madison Heights building was seen seeping onto I-696 last December. At the time, Sayers had just entered federal prison after pleading guilty to felony hazardous waste storage.

Local 4 cameras captured him outside federal court, but then Sayers vanished from the public eye. He entered federal custody, but the debate over the environmental issue was just heating up.

There were hearings in Lansing, town halls in Madison Heights and courtroom battles over who dropped the ball. He had violations with the city, state and feds dating back more than 25 years.

Yet through it all, Sayers was never himself seen or heard from. Repeated calls from Help Me Hank to his attorney were ignored while Sayers battled the city for control of his property.

In fact, even though the property in Madison Heights has been condemned and is tentatively slated for demolition, Sayers waged an ongoing legal battle to stop it. Another court hearing is scheduled for next month.

On Thursday, Sayers showed up at the Madison Heights property at the center of the scandal and wanted to look around inside. Police were called, and he was told to leave.

Sayers traveled down I-75 to Detroit and his other property -- which is also a mess and considered a potential danger. That’s where Sayers stopped and Help Me Hank gave him an opportunity to explain himself.

“Why did you leave your property in disarray like this?” Hank asked. “Sir, you need to answer some questions. Why aren’t you being responsible?”

“I can run all day if you want me to,” Sayers said.

Sayers stayed silent and refused to answer the questions that so many people want answers to.

The Environmental Protection Agency has spent around $3 million on cleanup efforts and has collected a total of 353,878 gallons of contaminated groundwater.

You can see video of Hank’s confrontation at the top of the page.

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.