MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The regional coordinator for the state EGLE (Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) agency is clarifying questions surrounding the green ooze that flowed from a closed industrial site to I-696 near I-75 just before the holidays in Madison Heights.
Tracy Kecskemeti says the state shut down Electro Plating Systems in 2016 and the EPA did a cleanup that same year, which cost $1.4 million. Kecskemeti says a big vat (10 x 10 and 6 feet deep) that was dug into the basement had been pumped out but was still contaminated and rainwater and groundwater caused the green ooze to flow from the site. The state is drilling borings around the site to see how far the cancer-causing chemicals have moved. State officials say no drinking water is in danger.
Kecskemeti also confirms that the state has thousands of industrial sites that are on a list needing cleanup but they have only enough money to do a few. They are prioritized based on the threat to people and the environment.
The Electro Plating facility had been in business since the 1950s with three owners. The most recent owner, Gary Sayers, pleaded guilty to Illegal Storage of Hazard Waste and was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison. The sentence is set to start this year. Kecskemeti says Sayers “hoarded” hazardous materials.
Sayers is also ordered to pay for the EPA cleanup. Court documents show he sold another site on Commonwealth in Detroit to the city for $2.5 million and did not owe anything on the property. His defense attorney Jim Thomas did not return a call for comment. It is not known where Sayers is living.
The city of Madison Heights is also suing Sayers to cover the cost of tearing down the building and doing a full clean up. That could cost millions more.