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EPA continues underground testing for green ooze contamination

Posted at 11:35 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 23:35:26-05

Contractors working for the federal Environmental Protection Agency continue to drill borings around the old Electro-Plating Systems plant in Madison Heights where green ooze flowed last month onto I-696.

State and federal officials continue to say no drinking water has been contaminated.

At the same time, Tricia Edwards who is EPA on scene coordinator would not answers questions about why this is happening when the EPA did a cleanup of the site after state shut it down in 2016. Watch the video, Edwards walks away from the interview.

A statement from the EPA also does not address the question everyone is asking.

In December 2016, the EPA’s Superfund team began its own assessment at the EPS facility. The EPA found that given the facility’s condition and the nature of the contaminants, actual or threatened releases of hazardous substances from the facility presented an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, welfare, and/or the environment.

Among other dangers to the public, the EPA observed sodium cyanide drums located on the same level as the plating bathes full of acids and exposed to precipitation from the holes in the roof and windows. The plating baths were uncovered and corroded. Additionally, EPS and Sayers had stored drums of oxidizers and nitric acid next to each other near the cyanide drums.

Sampling under authority of a search warrant, the EPA found drums with corrosive hazardous wastes, a drum and a tank with concentrations of chromium greater than the RCRA regulatory level for toxicity, an open pit in the basement with concentrations of chromium that also exceeded the RCRA regulatory limit, and containers that contained cyanide that exhibited the RCRA hazardous waste characteristic of reactivity. At no time did Sayers or EPS have a permit to store hazardous waste.

During EPA’s time-critical removal action, all hazardous materials were removed. EPA removed and disposed of the following:

Hazardous Waste Water 23,183 Gallons
Waste Cyanide Liquids 317,000 Pounds
Waste Cyanide Solids 47,523 Pounds
Hazardous Chromium Liquids 14,315 Gallons
Hydrochloric Acid 41,540 Pounds
Waste Acidic Liquids 17,785 Pounds
Waste Acidic Solids 26,835 Pounds
Waste Acidic Oxidizers 6,300 Pounds

The feds reached a plea deal with business owner Gary Sayers who reported to federal prison on Friday after pleading guilty to illegal storage of hazardous materials.

In the same deal he agreed to pay $1.4 million to the EPA for the cleanup. But property he owned on Commonwealth in Detroit that was to be sold to the city for $2.5 Million has not happened.

The City of Madison Heights is also suing Sayers for the final cleanup and tearing down the building. That case is on Oakland County Circuit Court on Wednesday with a motion from Sayers’ attorney to delay it. The city wants it to go to trial as scheduled next Monday.