Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Monday that her administration is considering legal action against the “polluter” responsible for a green ooze pollution found in Oakland County earlier this month.
A “green ooze” was found leaking onto Interstate-696 around 10 days ago. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said the chemicals seeped out of the basement of the condemned Electro Plating Services in Madison Heights.
Its owner, Gary Alfred Sayers, was sentenced to one year in federal prison for illegal storage of hazardous waste, according to WXYZ. He is scheduled to turn himself in during January. Whitmer said her office is considering “further criminal charges.”
“This situation demonstrates the need for broad reforms to address problems of critical underfunding and understaffing at the department following eight years of one-party control in Lansing,” Whitmer said in a statement. “It’s time for Republicans in the legislature to ensure EGLE has the technology and resources it needs to keep the public safe.”
Whitmer said that she directed EGLE to formally review its pollution inspection procedures to aim at strengthening enforcement and accountability.
“The ongoing situation in Madison Heights is very concerning, and further stresses the need to enforce protections that keep Michiganders safe,” Whitmer said. “State experts are on location assisting in the ongoing clean-up efforts.”
Whitmer also called for the passing of “Polluter Pay” legislation, which would mandate polluters clean up messes they make. A polluter pay law was introduced in February of this year.
EGLE said preliminary tests showed no risk to drinking water in the area, but high levels of multiple containments in soil and groundwater near the facility. EGLE said it found cyanide, hexavalent chromium, chromium and trichloroethylene, all hazardous materials used in the Electro Plating facility.
“Working with federal and local partners, my administration will stay focused on cleaning up contaminated sites sooner, addressing root causes, and holding polluters accountable,” Whitmer said.
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]