PFAS Found At 'Green Ooze' Site In Madison Heights, Officials Say

WWJ News
January 10, 2020 - 5:34 pm
ooze testing madison heights

EPA and EGLE staffers test soil at contaminated site in Madison Heights. (Photo: Jon Hewett/WWJ)

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MADISON HEIGHTS (WWJ) - There have now been heavy levels of PFAS found at the source of the "green ooze" that seeped onto I-696 last month.

That's on top of contaminants already known to be in the ground at the site of a former Electro-Plating Services facility, at 10 Mile Rd. and Couzens Ave in Madison Heights. 

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy said Friday that the latest discovery was made in samples of contaminated water collected in the basement pit of the vacant building, where owner Gary Sayers illegally stored chemicals for decades.

Levels were more than 100 times the legal limit in Michigan, officials said. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, polyfluoroalkyl substances, better-known as PFAS, are manmade chemicals not naturally found in the environment that are used in a variety of industrial and consumer products, such as carpeting, clothing, upholstery, food paper wrappings and fire-fighting foams.

As an interim measure to keep chemicals from flowing downstream in the sewer system, EPA contractors have begun work on an interceptor trench that will divert groundwater from the sewer system for collection and proper disposal. Clean stormwater will be pumped around the impacted area and back into the storm sewer farther downstream.

As cleanup at the ooze site continues, EGLE said it's starting a full formal assessment of the building and working with MDOT to get the lane of I-696 reopened by next week. (The right lane is blocked on eastbound I-696 at Couzens, and the exit ramp is also closed.)

EGLE said it's also investigating potentially hazardous liquids at another property owned by Sayers. Officials said Detroit Fire Department inspectors identified potentially hazardous liquids at the location, 5900 Commonwealth Street in Detroit on Friday. 

When the Detroit site was inspected in December as part of the probe of the I-696 ooze the substances were not discovered at that time, EGLE said. 

Friday evening, EGLE personnel were en route to the scene to assess the situation, determine next steps, and ensure the site is properly secured.

For more information about PFAS, possible associated health concerns, and to learn what the state is doing about PFAS, visit Michigan.gov/pfasresponse. Check for further updates from EGLE on the green ooze site, at this link