Officials have released more information on a green goo that has emerged from an embankment onto I-696 in Madison Heights.
- Officials say yellow-green chemical oozing onto I-696 poses no threat to drinking water, air quality
The substance is believed to be a cancer-causing chemical called hexavalent chromium. Both federal and state agencies are working to clean up the hazardous material. The EPA says there is no danger to the public but when a chemical this dangerous leaks into the ground water, there are a lot of concerns.
Small clarification. Our understanding is that the owner was sentenced in late fall and given three months to report to serve his sentence, but has not yet done so.
— Michigan EGLE (@MichiganEGLE) December 23, 2019
Macomb County’s Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller says everything in the storm drains goes straight to Lake St. Clair.
“Even though it is right on the border of Oakland and Macomb, all of that comes out into the lake,” Miller said.
This cancerous substance didn’t ooze onto I-696 overnight. It migrated through groundwater from Electro Plating Services in Madison Heights on 10 Mile Road, according to the EPA.
The company was shut down due to violations in 2016. The owner was found to be storing hazardous materials in leaking containers. The EPA spent over a million dollars to clean up the site, but now years later, the source of the cancerous chemical freeway ooze was traced to the basement where more of it was found, raising concerns and questions.
“It does beg a question: if you used a million and a half of super fund dollars to clean up the site and yet here’s this stuff oozing a couple years later ...” Miller said.
The spokesperson for Michigan’s environmental agency EGLE says there’s no immediate danger to the public.
“There’s no risk to the drinking water because the area is serviced by municipal drinking water, not the ground water,” Jill Greenberg said over the phone.
She added that the EPA did air monitoring and did not identify hazards, they also took soil samples that are being tested now. Results are expected Friday.
A portion of a lane on I-696 has been blocked and sand appears to have been dumped on the green goo.
Crews are vacuuming sewers and water catch basins in an attempt to stop the chemical from reaching the lake, but at this point no one knows how long it has been seeping into the ground water.
In a tweet Michigan EGLE said:
“Indeed some of the contamination may have entered the storm drains prior to it being detected. We are checking the drain catchments daily (in addition to the onsite sump) so we are confident that it is no longer moving downstream in the drains.”
Right now, there is a sump pump draining the basement where water mixed with this cancerous chemical. The dangerous mixture is going into an on-site container.
Miller says moving forward, standards need to be raised
“Let’s think about making sure we have the proper protocols in place so that when something happens, we make sure the proper testing (is done) right away so none of this ever gets into our water,” Miller said.
If you see anyone dumping or doing something they shouldn’t, or even if there is an accidental spill, Macomb County wants to know about it so they can address issues immediately. You can contact the Pollution Hotline for Macomb County with tips at 877-679-4337.