Gas line moved near odd eruption in SW Detroit; no evacuation planned

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

Detroit — DTE Energy has completed a gas bypass around the site of an unexplained event that destroyed a marijuana provisioning center in southwest Detroit last Saturday, and the city reiterated its stance that there is no reason for residents to evacuate.

"It's still deemed a safe area," Detroit Chief Operating Officer Hakim Berry told The Detroit News. "There is no gas leak, and no continued movement of earth."

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib and several other politicians had called Friday for the relocation of residents near the corner of Dearborn and West Fort streets, where a peculiar underground disturbance lifted the ground beneath and around Stash Detroit.

The road buckled during the event, and DTE gas and electric infrastructure was damaged by a resulting water main break. Stash Detroit was demolished Tuesday.

DTE crews at Dearborn and West Fort streets in Detroit on Sept. 12, 2021.

DTE had shut down a 24-inch high-pressure natural gas pipe along Dearborn Street on Wednesday. The utility crafted the bypass "as a precaution," Berry said. The line serves major manufacturers, he said, not residents, and was out of service for 24 hours.

Berry said investigators have taken soil samples as much as 100 feet deep as they try to determine the cause of the incident that left hulking mounds of dirt and debris at the corner.

"What they're doing is ruling out causes," he said, and he detailed several of the unlikely theories: "There was no explosion. Water typically doesn't push the ground up; the ground sinks in."

Tlaib had contended at a press conference Friday that "there's too many unanswered questions for us to stand still and wait until this community is wiped out because people were negligent."

Berry countered Saturday that "the ground hasn't shifted. It hasn't grown any more. It hasn't even fallen in."

Excavation of the site should begin in a few days, he said, with heavy equipment pulling back levels of concrete in a search for answers.