State: Erosion, sinkhole not contained at Detroit dock collapse site

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

The companies that own and lease space at a dock that collapsed into the Detroit River in late November are not adequately containing soil and other materials from falling into the river, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said Thursday.

The potential for soil contaminants to continue eroding into the Detroit river prompted the department Thursday to inform Revere Dock LLC and Detroit Bulk Storage that they had until Jan. 24 to submit an interim response plan that includes specific, long-term plans for the site.

A photo of the collapse from Nov. 26, 2019, shown at a community meeting in response to the Detroit Bulk Storage collapse into the Detroit River at the Cass Corridor Commons in Detroit on Dec. 12, 2019.

The southern portion of the collapse isn’t protected from erosion and a sinkhole developing in the area is growing rapidly, allowing contaminated soils to slip into the river, EGLE said in a statement.

The companies' plan, the department said, “must include an assessment of the sinkhole and proposed measures to ensure further contaminated soils and aggregate are not discharged into the Detroit River."

The Nov. 26 collapse prompted concern over the impact of potentially dangerous materials, including uranium, were handled there in the 1940s to develop nuclear weapons under the Manhattan Project.

The state environmental agency, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Great Lakes Water Authority have conducted water sampling in the area.

State and federal environmental officials have said several heavy metals were identified in the water, but only one — lead — exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removal management levels. Area water systems have assured customers that tests show the river water remained as safe as it was prior to the Nov. 26 spill.

Detroit building officials said Revere Dock LLC, which leased the site along Jefferson to Detroit Bulk Storage, had amassed up to 40,000 tons of limestone since summer without a permit.

Officials from Revere Dock LLC and Detroit Bulk Storage could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sand and gravel storage yard Detroit Bulk Storage told The News in December that the aggregate, piled 35-40 feet high along about 300 feet of waterfront, wasn't responsible for the collapse.

Instead, the collapse had more to do with high waters and consistent, heavy rain the night before the collapse, Detroit Bulk Storage Vice President Noel Frye said in December.

The company’s developing repair plan at that time included a new steel wall and dredging in the Detroit River to remove any aggregate that entered the water.

Separately, the city confirmed Thursday that it will be ticketing Detroit Marine Terminals, another site along the river that's improperly storing aggregate outdoors in violation of its permit. A number listed for the company was disconnected.

Christine Ferretti contributed.