NewsI-696 contamination crisis


Final stages of I-696 green ooze cleanup begin on Monday

Posted at 5:32 AM, Mar 29, 2021

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Could this be the home stretch toward the end of the green ooze cleanup? Beginning Monday after 9 a.m., the eastbound I-696 ramp to Couzens Ave. will be closed again for the remaining stages of HAZMAT cleanup.

The ooze found seeping onto I-696 in Madison Heights more than a year ago was found to be a highly toxic, cancer-causing chemical called hexavalent chromium. It was coming from Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights, and brought in EPA emergency teams. Now, the state is once again in charge of the final stages of the cleanup.

Crews will remove a concrete barrier separating the ramp from the HAZMAT location and will also remove the interceptor trench sump that has been in place for more than a year.

Over the years, Gary Sayers, the owner and operator of Electro-Plating Services, racked up EPA violations. He even dug a pit in the basement to hold the toxic byproducts of the businesses, mainly Hexavalent Chromium, according to the EPA.

In 2020, the EPA removed more than 300,000 gallons of the contaminated liquid and installed an interceptor trench to prevent it from running into the storm drains.

Treatment chemicals were then injected into the soil. Now, Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has taken over the final states of the cleanup.

EGLE is taking regular groundwater samples from several locations, but there is one big part of the cleanup left – getting soil that's under the building.

Sayers served a year in prison for improper storage of hazardous materials and has been in litigation with the City of Madison Heights over the demolition of the building.