State: Early tests show no drinking water contamination due to green ooze

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Preliminary test results of drinking and groundwater do not show that the contamination from the Electro-Plating Services facility in Madison Heights has affected the water, state officials said Friday.

Officials from the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted tests on groundwater and could not find any trichlorethylene (TCE) or hexavalent chromium.

The Electro-Plating Services building was the source last month of a green ooze found seeping onto Interstate 696. The groundwater testing was taken south of E. 10 Mile in Hazel Park, in the opposite direction from the highway leak.

Contractors from Tetra Tech Engineering services company use a drill to get soil samples to detect contamination near the facility where the green ooze was seeping out and onto the shoulder of I-696 in Madison Heights.

State officials said as a precaution, water systems in Grosse Pointe Farms and Wyandotte that draw water from Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River have tested their water and that they show levels of hexavalent chromium, the same chemical that caused the green color in the ooze.

Water test results in Madison Heights, according to the state, did not show contaminants exceeding drinking water standards.

This comes two days after state officials announced that initial testing at the properties of Gary Sayers, who owns the Madison Heights site, does not appear to show contaminants were dumped there.

EGLE officials also said that it took more water samples from a storm sewer catch basin along 10 Mile, the I-696 service drive, highway catch basins and from surface water in Bear Creek. Results will be available in February.

At property owned by Sayers on Commonwealth in Detroit, testing of liquids found earlier this month in concrete pits "detected heavy metals but no hexavalent chromium or semi-volatile (SVOCS)," the state said.

EGLE last week announced that recent testing near the Madison Heights site found the presence of PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or so-called forever chemicals in sewers and a creek. PFAS has been associated with health risks such as thyroid disease, increased cholesterol levels and kidney and testicular cancers.

The department said the testing was conducted this month in nearby storm sewers and at Bear Creek, which representatives said is not directly connected to Electro-Plating Services and two other buildings. The creek flows into the Clinton River and eventually to Lake St. Clair.

State officials also announced a public informational briefing on the Electro-Plating Services emergency response in Madison Heights for Feb. 3. The meeting will take place from 6-8 p.m. at Madison High School, 915 E. 11 Mile. Doors open at 5:30.

Sayers is serving a one-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to illegal handling of hazardous waste at Electro-Plating Services and other properties. He has been ordered to repay a $1.5 million cleanup done by the EPA in 2017.