Jul 13, 2020

Ground Water Cleanup Begins in Metro Detroit

A $1.8M toxic groundwater site cleanup will begin in metro Detroit


The U.S. EPA and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) announced plans to inject a chemical barrier into the groundwater at the former Electro-Plating Services building in the metro Detroit suburb of Madison Heights.

“EGLE requested EPA assistance at the site in December 2019 when yellow-green liquid containing toxic chemicals from EPS seeped from the former business onto the shoulder of I-696,” according to the EPA press release. 

Groundwater cleanup will begin next month at the former plating company, reported the EPA.

The treatment chemicals, reagents, are anticipated to degrade the toxic mixture of hexavalent chromium, trichloroethylene, cyanide and per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), which are polluting groundwater under the site, reported Booth Newspapers. The treatment is only expected to last a few years. The EPA estimates the groundwater cleanup to cost about $1.8 million.

“After evaluating several options, EPA and EGLE selected in-situ, or in-place, treatment as the remedy for groundwater contamination at the site,” said the EPA. “Treatment chemicals that degrade contaminants will be placed into the soil between the EPS building and the service drive, as well as along the top of the I-696 embankment. As groundwater naturally migrates through the soil, it will flow through the treatment areas, or react with the chemical barrier, and the contaminants will be treated in place.”

The building at 945 East 10 Mile Road must be demolished before major soil removal and long-term cleanup can begin, reported Booth Newspapers. The state legislature approved $600,000 this spring to assist with demolition costs.

Owner Gary Sayers was sentenced to a year in federal prison last fall after pleading guilty to illegal storage of hazardous waste. He was released to home confinement in June, however. Sayers is also fighting a $1.4 million restitution order for clean up at the site. 

The Electro-Plating Services site was shut down in 2016 after two decades of compliance issues. The site was reviewed for potential listing on EPA’s Superfund list but was not included since the underlying groundwater is not used for drinking.

Groundwater testing found hexavalent chromium at more than 39,000 times the state’s allowable level for contaminated groundwater that enters a surface water body, according to EPA. More than 262,830 gallons of polluted groundwater have been removed by sump pumps.

The EPA plans to re-line corroded wastewater and storm water pipes around the facility as well. EGLE is investigating contamination at two other properties owned by Sayers, reported Booth Newspapers.

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