Federal and State Environmental Crews Working to Mitigate Danger after Flat Rock Gas Leak

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About 1,400 gallons of gas leaked from an underground storage tank at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly plant, forcing residents to evacuate last week.

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Thousands of Flat Rock residents remain under an evacuation order following last week’s gasoline leak into the city’s sewer system.  

State environmental crews are now flushing the sewer with water. Jill Greenberg, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, says lines are being flushed to end the risk to residents.  

At this point, the flammable hazard from the unleaded gas has been mitigated. … It’s at trace levels at this point, we’re still pushing it through.” —Jill Greenberg, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

At this point, the flammable hazard from the unleaded gas has been mitigated. And right now it’s just flushing the rest of that gas through the system. And it’s at trace levels at this point, we’re still pushing it through,” she says.

She says flushing the sewer has no impact on drinking water or the environment. 

The drinking water is municipal. It’s separate and contained away from sanitary sewer. So there’s not a concern. Additionally with all this flushing, that water has to go somewhere it’s going to a wastewater treatment plants where it’s treated,” she says. 

About 1,400 gallons of gas leaked from an underground storage tank at Ford’s Flat Rock assembly plant last week. The automaker is on the hook for cleanup costs.  

Ford on Wednesday discovered “what originally looked to be a relatively small leak in a pipe that carries gasoline used to fuel vehicles built at the plant,” said Bob Holycross, Ford’s vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering, according to the Associated Press. But on Friday, the company “determined that the scale of the fuel leak was much larger, and that Ford is the likely source of the problem in Flat Rock, for which we apologize,” he said. 

EGLE and the EPA continue to oversee Ford as the company investigates how gasoline entered the sanitary sewer, and the investigation into how the leak occurred is ongoing. It’s not clear when residents who live near the plant will be allowed back into their homes.   

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Russ McNamara, Host, All Things Considered

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.

russmcnamara@wdet.org

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