When Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) staffers inspected the Michigan Industrial Finishes plant in a Hamtramck neighborhood in 2004, it discovered a substantial amount of flammable, toxic, hazardous waste being stored on-site in an unsafe manner.
Much of the hazardous waste was stored outside, in drums that were in poor condition, unprotected from weather, in areas without secondary containment, and in some cases on pallets of questionable stability stacked three-high or in containers that were observed leaking and impacting the environment. To further assess the hazard presented by the facility's illegal operations, EGLE coordinated a follow-up inspection with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emergency response staff in April, 2004 and based on their findings, it was determined that the storage conditions were substandard and presented a significant risk of a fire, explosion, and a release of hazardous substances to the environment. The drums were removed by the EPA through a time-critical removal effort.
The facility is located amongst other commercial and industrial facilities in Hamtramck, directly across the street from a low income, minority residential area in Detroit. The company that owned and operated the site automatically dissolved in July 2008 and the facility went into foreclosure.
In 2014, EGLE revisited the site and determined that in addition to the previous improper above-ground storage that five underground storage tanks (USTs) containing various refined petroleum products including pure xylenes and naphtha had been removed from the property. High concentrations of contamination remained in site soils, such as xylenes at 2 million parts per million in a soil sample.
Refined Petroleum Funds (RPF) were secured to conduct an investigation at the site, and EGLE hired a contractor, who conducted soil borings to determine current contamination concentrations and if contamination had migrated off-site. Results verified significant soil contamination remained, posing significant vapor intrusion, ambient air, and direct contact risks from the former underground storage tank systems. Soil gas points were installed offsite and were sampled by EGLE to help evaluate the vapor intrusion risk to adjacent properties. Sampling results indicated that the clay soils at the site prevented significant migration of contamination. Extensive remedial actions were conducted by EGLE using RPF to excavate contaminated soils to mitigate the direct contact, vapor intrusion, and ambient air pathways at the site.
A total of 20,608 tons of contaminated soils were removed and the main factory building demolished. The current owner of the property has plans to redevelop the property in the future into a meat processing center in the future.