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Preliminary test results find multiple contaminants, but no threat to drinking water intakes in wake of green ooze

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Posted at 4:17 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-01 14:11:47-05

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Officials have released the preliminary EPA test results for the soil and water near the facility believed responsible for the green ooze that leaked onto I-696 last week.

  1. Commissioner: Green ooze on I-696 in Oakland County is life-threatening

Test of the water in nearby storm sewers found levels of hexavalent chromium of .14 milligrams per liter. That's above the .10 milligrams per liter that is the standard for drinking water, which the EPA also considers as the maximum amount allowed.

Officials say that at that level the concentration would be well below detectable levels when the water from the storm sewers eventually enters Lake St. Clair. However, officials say there's still a significant concern for incremental accumulation in the ecosystem.

The EPA is also currently reassessing whether the .10 milligrams is still too high an allowable level, given the cumulative affect hexavalent chromium can can. California set an even lower limit following the events dramatized in the movie Erin Brockovich.

The testing also found high levels of contaminants in the groundwater between the Electro-Plating Services building and the I-696 service drive. These contaminants include chromium, trichloroethylene and cyanide.

Soil tests were also conducted on the freeway embankment where the green ooze appeared. It found hexavalent chromium, multiple heavy metals and other contaminants at levels below the threshold for direct human contact.

Further testing will be conducted late next week, when the EPA will begin to conduct dozens of soil borings to determine the extent and levels of contamination.

Regulators continue to work on the site daily during the holiday weeks, including the following activities:

  • Daily vacuuming of nearby catch basins.
  • Maintenance and inspection of sump pumps collecting contaminated water from both inside the facility and on the highway embankment.
  • Daily monitoring of air in the building using hand-held monitors.
  • Preparing for the impact of rain and freezing weather.