State of emergency in Flat Rock: Odor prompts search for hazardous material in sewer

Unexplained odor in southeastern Flat Rock has environmentalists investigating, city officials warning residents to leave house if smell detected

The concern is an odor detected at one of Flat Rock’s sanitary sewer lift or pumping stations, and inside two homes in the Hickory Ridge subdivision. Flat Rock officials said if residents smell the odor or feel ill, contact them immediately and get to fresh air. The smell was first detected at a home and a sanitary sewer lift station south of Gibraltar Road.

FLAT ROCK, Mich. – Federal and state hazardous materials teams from Downriver and western Wayne County went street-by-street and door-to-door Thursday in Flat Rock’s southeast neighborhoods.

The concern is an odor detected at one of Flat Rock’s sanitary sewer lift or pumping stations, and inside two homes in the Hickory Ridge subdivision. Flat Rock officials said if residents smell the odor or feel ill, contact them immediately and get to fresh air. The smell was first detected at a home and a sanitary sewer lift station south of Gibraltar Road.

Flat Rock’s mayor asked residents to call in reports of new odors or unexplained sickness. He said if you do detect any of this, leave the house immediately.

“Those guys quickly got overwhelmed. There was just, as they were looking for the stuff, it just kept getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger,” said Mayor Mark Hammond. “We don’t know what the stuff is. We don’t know where it is, as far as the source. We know where it is contained, and it is contained to that southeastern corner of the city.”

Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans first declared a state of emergency for the city of Flat Rock on Thursday. Then, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the city of Flat Rock and Wayne and Monroe counties Thursday night.

One homeowner in the Hickory Ridge neighborhood told us he hasn’t been home since Tuesday as crews continue to detect fumes in his home.

Our cameras caught environmental crews lifting sewer lids to take readings with gas monitors and finding fume levels that potentially can burn in the air. Still, and most frustratingly so far, there’s was just an odor. Nothing definitive except the good news no one has gotten sick.

Crews from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) have joined hazardous material teams from Downriver and Wayne County to investigate.

School closed

River Heights Academy on Olmstead Road is closing Friday, Sept. 3 for this very reason. The school is temporarily closing while the investigation continues. The school plans to be open for Tuesday’s classes.

More: Downriver news


About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.