Ford addresses Flat Rock chemical leak in virtual town hall

Company says discovered leak initially believed to be ‘smaller problem’ and contained

For the second night in a row, Flat rock Residents were invited to a town hall meeting to discuss how the city is moving forward since a dangerous benzene chemical leak was discovered days ago.

FLAT ROCK, Mich.For the second night in a row, Flat rock Residents were invited to a town hall meeting to discuss how the city is moving forward since a dangerous benzene chemical leak was discovered days ago.

Wednesday night’s meeting was virtual, featuring panelist from multiple agencies including Ford Motor Company, which is believed to be responsible for the leak. Bob Holycross, vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering, explained how the situation was bigger what was initially expected.

“We saw the leak and we thought it was a smaller problem. We thought it was contained in that put. But as we continued to investigate, then our indications was that the leak was larger than originally thought,” Holycross said.

Read: Here’s what inspection records say about underground fuel tank leak in Flat Rock

Read: Flat Rock fuel leak: Homeowners wait for ‘all-clear’ as state investigates Ford assembly plant

An expert from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed how sewer lines were affected because of the gasoline leak at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant.

“This graphic is designed to show you the red line is the actual main. That’s where the water flows and that’s where we believe the gasoline and product would have flowed,” said Tricia Edwards with the EPA.

But there’s still some confusion about what zones need to be evacuated. Previously it was said that zones 1 and 2 were affected.  But Wednesday night, we heard something different.

“The only place we’re recommending evacuation is zone 1.  All the other areas are open for investigation,” said a representative with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

While the meeting took place with many technical difficulties happening, the stream was bombarded with comments of unhappy residents who feel they’ve been let down.

Read: Flat Rock residents demand answers for chemical leak at city council meeting

“You think people want to hear sorry? You have turned people’s lives upside down,” one woman wrote.

Another common comment was how residents wanted to see Ford Motor Company and other agency representatives face-to-face.

“This isn’t good enough for us. Virtual meeting is not enough,” stated one woman.

“Nothing got answered in this meeting, all they’re saying is that we’re working on it,” another wrote.

Ford still said they’re working to accommodate those affected with hotel vouchers and gift cards.



About the Author:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.