Patty Michaels has lived in the idyllic neighborhood east of the Plymouth Road Ford plant in Livonia for nearly 50 years.
"It's quiet, it's peaceful, we have deer, we have rabbits, we have squirrels, we have all kinds of goodies," she said.
Michaels is now one of more than 100 homeowners in an area where Ford will be drilling and testing groundwater for vinyl chloride, a chemical that came from trichloroethylene or TCE, which was used as a parts cleaner at the plant until the 1980s.
Safe levels for vinyl chloride in drinking water are considered 2 parts per billion. Ford found levels as high as 28 parts per billion in some recent samples.
"If it ignited anything like what Flint's going through, then it would concern me," Michaels said.
Livonia's Director of Administrative Services, Dave Varga, assured residents their drinking water is safe, as the city gets its water from Detroit and the Great Lakes Water Authority.
"There's a heightened sensitivity around water these days," Varga admitted.
Samples of the chemical were found seven feet or more underground, and Ford said they don't show any health risk to neighbors.
The automaker said in a statement:
"Ford is committed to the health and safety of the Livonia community and ensuring its properties meet all environmental requirements for land use. While renovating the Livonia Transmission Plant, we discovered vinyl chloride in the groundwater on the east side of the plant. Ford is investigating the issue to determine the potentially affected area, and verify if any action is required. Importantly, all samples collected to date show no health risk to residents, and drinking water is not at risk."
Ford is working with Livonia city officials and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Varga said the city also hired its own consultant to look at the data.
"We want to make sure that safety is the top priority that Ford has," Varga said.
Ford sent out letters this week to homeowners expected to see drilling in their area.
Testing is set to begin next Tuesday and last for about two weeks.
There is an informational meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Livonia Transmission Plant at 36200 Plymouth Road.