Air quality concerns persist at Franklin mall

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
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Franklin Village Plaza

Three of five businesses in a Franklin shopping center havebeen issued a voluntary evacuation because of poor air quality, county officials said Thursday. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Oakland County Health Division are recommending a continued evacuation for the three businesses at Franklin Village Plaza. 

The shopping center, on Franklin Road south of West 14 Mile, originally closed in March because of a potential chemical leak under its buildings.

Oakland County officials gave permission for two businesses, Franklin Nail and Spa, and Franklin Cleaners, to reopen on March 22

The other businesses, Tailoring and More, Fritz and Friends, and The Village Boutique, will remain evacuated until the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality confirms the installation of a permanent air filtration system expected in late June. 

County officials said they were notified that a storage tank of at least 45 gallons of unknown volatile organic compounds was found in a crawl space.

MDEQ officials discovered the tank while conducting work to remediate vapors from chemicals used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing. 

On March 14, the MDEQ said it identified the chemicals in the tank as Tetrachloroethylene and petroleum byproducts associated with a dry cleaning business and gas station that were on the property until the 1970s.

The tank was successfully removed and vapor barriers and air filtration devices have been installed, according to the Oakland County Health Division.

All five businesses are required to use a temporary air filtration devices provided by the MDEQ to remove chemicals from the air. 

Jayne DePotter, owner of Fritz and Friends, focused on jewelry making and metal snipping, said the shop will remain closed. In the meantime, she's looking for a new location. 

"The new air test results were not good and our numbers were higher than any other business," DePotter said. "We're going to have to move and we've taken such a financial hit. We teach hours of metal snipping and our students need to be in the studio."

The Oakland County Health Department lifted the mandatory shutdown for DePotter's shop but she said, "It's still not safe in our studio and I refuse to put anyone in harm's way."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_


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