New master plan to inspect site of massive metro Detroit sinkhole

Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-12 18:01:08-04

That massive sinkhole in Fraser, caused by a collapsed sewer pipe, led to a lot of questions about the county's infrastructure.

Today Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller addressed the concern with a new master plan to inspect everything underground.

Crews have dug 12 feet underground, but the surface of the pipe is another 48 feet underneath. We're told it will take another two months to get there.

Progress at the site of a massive sinkhole in Fraser caused by a collapsed sewer main on Christmas Eve.

After two of three condemned homes were demolished in March, a temporary bypass pipe is now complete.

"Obviously we can't fix the interceptor that's collapsed until we stop all of the sewage from going through there, so that has now happened," Miller said.

Miller tells us their next step is to do a complete assessment of drainage pipes in the county.

"We're going to have asset management, we're going to understand all the underground infrastructure," she added. "And we're going to have a regular inspection program and maintenance and all of that."

It's a first ever for Macomb County, after questions about how this pipe was allowed to fail.

The massive inspection will cover 91,000 feet of pipe, which is about 17 miles.

The only company to bid on the project, Red Zone Robotics out of Pittsburgh, has seven types of robots to deploy in pipes considered too dirty, dark and dangerous for people.

The robots will use lasers, sonar and cameras to create 3-D images from inside the pipe.

They can measure debris, submerge below water and sewer and some are even autonomous.

They'll begin this week, in the 15 Mile area.

"Probably in a month or six weeks we'll know in this immediate area what the condition of this pipe is and whether or not we have to do anything more than what we're planning to at this immediate time," Miller said.

Once they get the robots down into the collapsed sewer interceptor, they hope to finally understand why it failed.

Another issue they're seeing out here are with these disposable wipes. A lot of times they say they're flushable, but they're not biodegradable and they're already clogging up the new bypass system.

They're telling people you can use them, just throw them away in the trash.