Initial test results indicate no drinking water contamination, no southward migration of Electro-Plating contamination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 24, 2020
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278
Jill A. Greenberg, EGLE Spokesperson, GreenbergJ@Michigan.gov, 517-897-4965

Preliminary test results from drinking water and groundwater announced today indicate that contamination from the polluted Madison Heights Electro-Plating Services facility are neither impacting drinking water nor moving southward from the site.

Officials with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tested groundwater from south of E. 10 Mile Road in Hazel Park – the opposite direction from the I-696 freeway embankment where contaminants were discovered seeping onto the shoulder Dec. 20. Those tests detected no trichlorethylene (TCE) and no hexavalent chromium. Results of soil samples taken from the same locations are pending.

Additionally, water systems that draw their water from Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, downstream from the contamination, have tested their water as a precaution. Results are available from Grosse Pointe Farms’ and Wyandotte’s systems. They show levels of hexavalent chromium – the chemical that gave the highway liquid its green color – less than 1/1,000th of the drinking water standard.

Test results from Madison Heights municipal water released this morning show no contaminants exceeding drinking water standards, a consultant for the city reported. Tests from other water systems are pending.

In other developments:

  • The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) on Thursday took another round of water samples from storm sewer catch basins along 10 Mile Road, the I-696 service drive, highway catch basins, and from surface water in Bear Creek. Those results will be available in early February.
  • EPA contractors plan to sample indoor air at a building adjacent to the Electro-Plating facility next week, including sampling below the building’s 12-inch thick concrete slab floor.
  • EPA contractors are using hand augers to investigate potential pathways of contaminant migration along underground utility corridors.
  • Engineering teams from the EPA continue to work on a plan to address site contaminants, including a flow-rate analysis of groundwater at the site, and treatability studies on the contaminated groundwater to determine the best way to remediate the pollution.
  • The EPA reported that a total of 47,825 gallons of contaminated groundwater has been collected by sump pumps and vacuum trucks. That liquid is being transported to a licensed hazardous waste disposal facility.

In developments related to other sites owned by Electro-Plating owner Gary Sayers, who is in prison for repeated violation of pollution laws:

  • At Sayers’ Sanilac County property, EGLE is awaiting samples from three nearby residential water wells, which should be available next week. Initial soil and surface water testing showed no evidence that contaminants were dumped on the property. EGLE is attempting to secure access to the property to conduct a more thorough investigation that will utilize ground-penetrating radar or other methods that could discover buried materials.
  • At Sayers’ Detroit warehouse on Commonwealth Street, tests on liquid discovered in concrete pits showed no hexavalent chromium, but did detect other heavy metals. Results of tests for PFAS are being analyzed. When those results are known, contractors will drain the pits and transport the liquid for appropriate disposal. EGLE is working to secure legal permission to remove debris from the property to facilitate soil sampling.
  • EGLE investigated an additional property formerly owned by Sayers in Sterling Heights. A site visit showed a wooded, vacant parcel with no visible debris. EGLE will conduct additional review of that site.

Officials also discussed logistics for a public informational briefing on the Electro-Plating Services emergency response in Madison Heights that is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3. The meeting will take place from 6-8 p.m. at Madison High School, 915 E. 11 Mile Road. Doors open at 5:30.

EGLE will post updates at Electroplating Services / I-696 Incident.

To report environmental emergencies, contact the Pollution Emergency Alerting System hotline, 800-292-4706. For information about EGLE programs call our Environmental Assistance Center, 800-662-9278, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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