EPA provides preliminary test results for toxic material release in Madison Heights

Lansing MI (12/27/2019) – Preliminary test results of soil and water on and near the site of Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights affirm no risk to drinking water intakes in Lake St. Clair, but high levels of multiple contaminants in the soil and groundwater surrounding the facility. Full data from the testing will be available after a quality control review is complete next week.

Late next week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin dozens of soil borings as part of an initial site characterization to help determine the extent and levels of contamination.

Electro-Plating Services is responsible for contaminated liquid that migrated offsite onto the Interstate 696 freeway shoulder last week. It prompted a multi-agency response, including the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), to contain the liquid.

Test of water in the storm sewers near the site showed levels of hexavalent chromium at 0.14 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The standard for drinking water is 0.10 mg/L. The storm sewer eventually enters Lake St. Clair miles away. At that point, concentrations would be well below detectable levels although still a significant concern for incremental accumulation in the ecosystem.

The tests, conducted by the EPA, also showed high levels of contaminants in the groundwater between the building and the I-696 service drive, including chromium, trichloroethylene (TCE) and cyanide – all chemicals previously used in the Electro-Plating facility.
Soil tests on the highway embankment where the green liquid appeared on the shoulder showed hexavalent chromium, multiple heavy metals and other contaminants at levels below the threshold for direct human contact.

Regulators continue to work on the site daily during the holiday weeks, including the following activities:

Daily vacuuming of nearby catch basins.
Maintenance and inspection of sump pumps collecting contaminated water from both inside the facility and on the highway embankment.
Daily monitoring of air in the building using hand-held monitors.
Preparing for the impact of rain and freezing weather.
State, federal and local agencies responding to the incident include: EGLE, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan State Police (MSP), the EPA, Oakland County Emergency Management, Macomb County and the city of Madison Heights.

To report environmental emergencies, contact the Pollution Emergency Alerting System hotline 1-800-292-4706. EGLE will post updates at Electroplating Services / I-696 Incident.

Background: EPS was issued a Cease and Desist order from EGLE (then the Department of Environmental Quality) in December 2016 due to extreme mismanagement of hazardous waste that posed an immediate and substantial threat to the community. Throughout 2017, the EPA conducted a cleanup of the site, removing the hazardous chemicals and pumping contaminated liquid from an earthen pit in the basement of the facility. This clean-up addressed the immediate hazards on the site but was not intended to address all environmental impacts. In November 2019, EPS owner Gary Sayers was convicted of operating an unlicensed hazardous waste storage facility, sentenced to one year in federal prison, and ordered to repay the EPA $1.5 million for clean-up costs.

Contacts: Jill A. Greenberg, EGLE Public Information Officer, GreenbergJ@Michigan.gov, 517-897-4965; EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278

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