The City of Madison Heights

Mayor Bryan C. Hartwell

Dated January 25, 2020 Facebook Post

As we approach the February 3, 2020, public informational briefing about the Electro-Plating contamination, I would like to share the government’s facts and plans. No filter. No editorializing.

Here, as reported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, are the actions that have been taken to respond the the emergency and to understand the extent of the contamination:

  • Mobilized to the site and removed contaminated water that had leaked onto Interstate 696 and into the catch basins of the sewer system.

  • Coordinated with Michigan EGLE, Michigan Department of Transportation, and local agencies to ensure safe access and operations in the work zones. MDOT has been integral is providing lane closures.

  • Installed two sumps. The first, in the basement pit of the Electro Plating Services building to collect and remove water from the basement into a portable tank to prevent water from migrating off-site. The second, a collection system along the embankment wall of Interstate 696 which has been plumbed to discharge into a frac-tank that has been placed on the shoulder of the highway. Both sumps are operated by a float and are operational 24 hours/day.

  • Took soil samples and installed 25 monitoring wells. Twenty-one soil and 19 groundwater samples have been sent to a lab for analysis.

  • Began an expanded assessment to determine what further actions may be necessary. This assessment included drilling test wells to evaluate how far contamination has migrated through area soil.

  • Used an hydraulic profiling tool (HPT) to better understand the location and movement of groundwater on the site.

  • Collected six water samples from the storm sewer and catch basins near the the facility as well as the outlet to Bear Creek.

  • Storm sewer-by pass approved by city of Madison Heights and is functioning. Plugged a section of sewer along plating facility to prevent flow through.

  • Placed glycol heater in frac tank with heated hoses to prevent freezing.

  • Wrapped to insulate exposed plumbing from cold temperatures.

  • A third frac tank was delivered to site to handle additional liquid generated from the future interceptor trench sump.

  • Removed concrete and asphalt from the roadway where the interceptor trench is to be excavated.

  • Began interceptor trench excavation.

  • Took samples for a treatability study.

  • The 36" perforated pipe, to be used as a sump, was set at approximately 13' deep. Two unidentified pipes were discovered crossing the excavation.

  • Continue geospatial survey of site collecting GPS and elevation points.

  • Gauge monitoring well depths and properly abandoning temporary wells with bentonite.

  • City of Madison Heights Public Works surveyed sewer lines with a drain camera.

  • Installed five vapor pins for subslab soil vapor sampling in the adjoining business to be completed on a later date.

  • Conducted hand auger soil borings along the utility corridor.

  • Collected water samples from temporary wells for the extended vapor intrusion sampling investigation.

  • Collected 42,095 gallons of liquid from storm drains, the on-site monitoring well and the basement of the former plating facility.

Now for the most recent information from the State of Michigan:

  • Preliminary test results from drinking water and groundwater announced today indicate that contamination from the polluted Madison Heights Electro-Plating Services facility are neither impacting drinking water nor moving southward from the site.

  • Officials with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tested groundwater from south of E. 10 Mile Road in Hazel Park – the opposite direction from the I-696 freeway embankment where contaminants were discovered seeping onto the shoulder Dec. 20. Those tests detected no trichlorethylene (TCE) and no hexavalent chromium. Results of soil samples taken from the same locations are pending.

  • Additionally, water systems that draw their water from Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, downstream from the contamination, have tested their water as a precaution. Results are available from Grosse Pointe Farms’ and Wyandotte’s systems. They show levels of hexavalent chromium – the chemical that gave the highway liquid its green color – less than 1/1,000th of the drinking water standard.

  • Test results from Madison Heights municipal water released this morning show no contaminants exceeding drinking water standards, a consultant for the city reported. Tests from other water systems are pending.

In other developments:

  • The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) on Thursday took another round of water samples from storm sewer catch basins along 10 Mile Road, the I-696 service drive, highway catch basins, and from surface water in Bear Creek. Those results will be available in early February.

  • EPA contractors plan to sample indoor air at a building adjacent to the Electro-Plating facility next week, including sampling below the building’s 12-inch thick concrete slab floor.

  • EPA contractors are using hand augers to investigate potential pathways of contaminant migration along underground utility corridors.

  • Engineering teams from the EPA continue to work on a plan to address site contaminants, including a flow-rate analysis of groundwater at the site, and treatability studies on the contaminated groundwater to determine the best way to remediate the pollution.

  • The EPA reported that a total of 47,825 gallons of contaminated groundwater has been collected by sump pumps and vacuum trucks. That liquid is being transported to a licensed hazardous waste disposal facility.

As noted, the city is responsible for building code and fire code, and city inspectors blew the whistle on this site from a fire safety perspective thereby initiating the federal and state cleanup efforts, the polluters prison sentence, and the present lawsuit to demolish the structures. Unfortunately, so many politicians, media, and trespassers have regularly entered the property thereby damaging the city’s arguments in court that this is a dangerous and unsafe structures.

The federal and state government are responsible for the emergency, short term and long term clean ups of the Electro-Plating site.

The State of Michigan has been instrumental in cleaning up the known contamination at Electro-Plating and testing the surrounding area to understand the extent of the problem.

Shortly after we saw the first images of the frozen green groundwater, on Christmas Eve, I hosted a meeting of leaders from all levels of government to coordinate the clean up response, delegate communications, and unify the concerns of elected officials and administration from Washington DC-Lansing-Pontiac-City Hall. At that meeting, all governments agreed that the State of Michigan would handle the messaging because the State was handling the bulk of the emergency work, and could therefore give the clearest explanation of what was happening on the ground.

 

Still, through today, the State is the chosen leader to manage communications with the public. Unfortunately, there are a handful of politicians straying from the communications strategy and causing confusion. I will continue to rely on the coordinated plan and share messages from the State because those reports are the most current, fact intensive, devoid of politics/editorializing, and demonstrate a strategy.


It is important to understand the general roles of the different levels of government because the city is unable to perform the clean up, testing, and remediation by itself. The city is not the regulator of chrome plating facilities; we issue certificates of occupancy to businesses that want to operate within the city.  The city has been a partner in securing the site, performing independent testing, and pursuing a court action to enforce our building and fire safety codes as to the structure only.


The county has been a close partner by employing resources from several departments.  Several departments of the State of Michigan are involved from MDOT to, of course, EGLE, who is managing the actual clean up.  The federal government is involved in the clean up and continued testing, and in the long term should perform the full remediation.


I will join the State’s public informational briefing on February 3, 2020, and encourage my fellow residents to join me.

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