Cleanup Continues at ‘Green Ooze’ site in Madison Heights

After ‘green ooze’ that appeared on I-696 was traced to a former electro-plating business in Madison Heights, state environmental officials say there’s no ‘imminent threat’ to local drinking water.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) is continuing testing and cleanup at a former electro-plating business in Madison Heights.

The site is contaminated with hexavalent chromium and the chemical continues to seep into the ground, storm drains and onto I-696.

Gary Sayers, the owner of Electro Plating Services, is spending a year in jail for dumping toxic chemicals into the ground at the site on 10 Mile Road near John R St. 

EGLE representative Jill Greenberg says the agency is testing is to see how far the contamination has spread.

“We want to mitigate any further migration of the toxic water.” – Jill Greenberg, EGLE

Russ McNamara
Russ McNamara

The agency says its current trajectory takes it towards a storm drain that runs into Bear Creek, which then feeds into the Clinton River.

Greenberg says the contaminated ground water and existing water on-site is being sucked up and put into tanks for disposal.

“Early indications are that the liquid is coming back to the sump pumps, which means they’re working exactly the way we want them to,” Greenberg says. “We want to mitigate any further migration of the toxic water.”

Unfinished job

Some of the hazardous waste was removed by the Environmental Protection Agency and EGLE was supposed to take over in 2018, but lacked the funds to finish the job.

“EGLE did a site assessment, but determined that there was no imminent risk to drinking water since everyone in the area gets water from municipal sources and there’s no wells in the area,” Greenberg says. “The site was graded for possible Superfund status, but it did not happen due to the low risk to drinking water. So it was put onto a list with thousands of other sites across Michigan that need remediation.”

Test results on the spread of the contamination are expected within one to two weeks, according to officials.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.