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Expect lane closures on I-696 through January due to 'Green Ooze' clean-up

Posted at 5:58 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-01 14:11:34-05

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Kat Storm moved into a neighborhood in Madison Heights near Ten Mile about four months ago. She says, being new to the area, there was something she noticed as unusual.

She saw many dead animals as she walked to and from work, more than she used to see in her old neighborhood.

“So many weren’t hit by a car. They are just dead. And it makes you wonder, what happened?”

Then about a week ago green ooze started flowing onto I-696 in Madison Heights near Couzens Avenue. Now she is wondering: are the dead animals and green ooze connected?

The EPA released preliminary tests to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE. EGLE sent out a press release saying, “Preliminary test results of soil and water on and near the site of Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights affirm no risk to drinking water intakes in Lake St. Clair, but high levels of multiple contaminants in the soil and groundwater surrounding the facility. Full data from the testing will be available after a quality control review is complete next week.”

The release went on to say that tests did identify cyanide, hexavalent chromium, chromium and trichloroethylene. These are all hazardous chemicals used in the nearby Electro-Plating facility.

EGLE says the chemicals seeped out of the basement of the condemned Electro Plating Services on Ten Mile in Madison Heights. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says he prosecuted the owner of the building almost a year ago.

“The type of environmental crime that we had here could have been deadly,” said Schneider.

The man who owned it, Gary Alfred Sayers was sentenced to 1 year in federal prison for illegal storage of hazardous waste. He is scheduled to turn himself in in January.

A map of the area that the court was told could have been impacted by the hazardous waste showed a one-mile radius at risk. But is it accurate? Macomb County Drain Commissioner Candice Miller says she is concerned it could travel father.

”My overriding concern is that this contaminant, which is not only cancer causing, I mean if you drink it you die, it cannot be allowed to travel down to Lake Saint Clair,” said Miller.

“Our number one concern is that everyone is safe. We have children here,” said Roslyn Grafstein, Mayor Pro Tem of Madison Heights.

Grafstein says that city leaders met with the EPA and the state this morning for several hours. They did not get all the answers they would like yet, but have been told everyone is working to find out exactly how this happened and how to fix it.

“We have to be on top of this. These are people and lives that are at stake. These are not insects. We live here and this is our home,” said Kat Storm.

Michigan State Police say preliminary estimates are that cleanup will take about a month. During that time expect the right lane on Eastbound I-696 and the Couzens Avenue Exit to be closed.