Green Liquid Being Tested At Detroit Business Has Links to 696 Spillage

A green substance found in a Detroit building is being tested. The owner of the building is the same man sentenced for improperly storing waste that recently leaked onto the I-696 service drive.

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A green liquid found buried at a Detroit business is being tested by Michigan environmental regulators due to it’s similarity to the toxic ‘green ooze’ substance that leaked onto I-696 service drive weeks ago. Commonwealth Industries is owned by Gary Sayers – the businessman who is currently in prison for his handling of chemicals in Madison Heights.

The substance was found at 5900 Commonwealth Street, Detroit, Friday by Detroit Fire Department inspectors. The waste is being removed by contractors and stored off-site, according to a statement from the Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE).

“City of Detroit personnel reported to EGLE that there were several pits in the building, some empty, some partially filled with liquid.” – Jill Greenberg, EGLE

EGLE representative Jill Greenberg says there are no concerns about contaminated drinking water. 

“At this point it appears contained to the location and since water is through municipal sources [drinking water] is not impacted – but we are going to continue with testing to determine what kind of contaminants we are dealing with and to see if there is any impact beyond the property itself,” said Greenberg.

In November, owner Sayers was sentenced to a year in prison for improperly storing hazardous waste at his Madison Heights business, Electro Plating Services. In late December, a mysterious green ooze was discovered to be leaching out of his business and onto the I-696 service drive.

It was later identified as hexavalent chromium, the cancer-causing chemical Erin Brockovich became famous fighting against.


Related: Cleanup Continues at ‘Green Ooze’ site in Madison Heights


City of Detroit officials examined the Commonwealth site Friday evening.

“City of Detroit personnel reported to EGLE that there were several pits in the building, some empty, some partially filled with liquid,” said EGLE spokesperson Jill Greenberg in an email. “Some were the same greenish color as observed in Madison Heights.”


Related: Residents React to ‘Green Ooze’ With Humor, Concern 


Greenberg likened the condition of the building to the home of a hoarder, given the amount of clutter. She says the liquid from the building will be tested. The building was boarded up Saturday as an interim security measure.

Editor’s note, 11:00 am, Jan 14, 2020: This story has been updated with information on the status of drinking water after the discovery of a potentially hazardous chemical in Midtown.

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  • 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.

  • Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.