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Gasoline in sewers from Ford Flat Rock leak cleared, officials say

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Gasoline from a recent leak at a Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Flat Rock no longer shows up in local sewers, officials said late Wednesday.

Sanitary sewers in residential areas affected by the incident have undergone "extensive jetting and flushing," state environmental officials reported in an update provided by Wayne County.

"Readings and screenings consistently show the released gasoline in the sewer has been cleared. Although sewers typically have fluctuations in small amounts of gasses due to permitted discharges, monitoring and screening of the sanitary sewers have shown the gasoline has been cleared and the sewer system is considered back to normal operating conditions."

The TAGA (Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer) mobile lab will be used to analyze homes in the Flat Rock area that were affected by the recent Ford Motor Co. chemical leak.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it had performed indoor air sampling at 22 homes through Wednesday using the Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer mobile laboratory.

The agency has conducted sampling in 78 sanitary sewer locations and gathered more than 4,827 air quality measurements since its response began, according to the notice.

The EPA also oversaw a sewer smoke test the city conducted to determine the path of migration from the affected sewer system, officials said Wednesday.

Some 1,200 families have been evacuated since the leak was first detected on Aug. 30.

Bob Holycross, the automaker's vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering, told reporters Tuesday it appeared to have started "no earlier than" Aug. 26. The company believes the 1,400 gallons of gasoline seeped out slowly, he said.

The incident prompted state and county officials to declare a state of emergency

Ford has extended the plant's closure through Sept. 20. Officials have said the factory, which uses gasoline to fuel the Ford Mustangs it builds, has been deemed safe through regular air quality monitoring.

Flat Rock Mayor Mark Hammond on Monday announced residents could remain away from their homes for weeks as testing continues. 

The next day, Ford announced it planned to send $500 checks to every household affected.

In the update Wednesday, company officials said residents can continue to find help with hotels by calling (734) 782-2455 and dialing option 6.