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Whitmer orders review of inspections after discovery of ooze

Posted at 5:39 PM, Dec 31, 2019

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered Michigan's environmental agency to review its pollution-inspection procedures and says her administration is reviewing if criminal charges can be filed after the discovery of a green substance along I-696 in suburban Detroit.

The substance, identified as hexavalent chromium, is a cancerous chemical that was created by a manufacturing facility that never properly stored or disposed of it. The chemical eventually ate through the bins it was stored in and began to leak.

The U.S. Environmental Agency stepped in two years ago and removed about 37,000 gallons of hazardous chemicals from the former site of the manufacturing facility. Once the imminent threat posed by the containers of hazardous waste was gone, the EPA passed the job off to Michigan to finish.

Despite federal tests that indicated the need for further assessment and long-term action, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy hasn’t taken any action due to a lack of funding.

The metro Detroit site is one of thousands in Michigan that the department doesn’t have the funds to assess or clean up.

Whitmer called the ooze “very concerning” Monday. She says the situation shows the need for “broad reforms” to address underfunding and understaffing at EGLE.

Whitmer is urging lawmakers to better fund the agency and to pass legislation ensuring polluters pay for cleanup.