SHELBY TWP. (WWJ) - Researchers say Macomb County residents are at risk after the discovery of dangerous chemicals in the soil near the old Ford Motor Company plant in Shelby Township.
The 205-acre site in question at 23 Mile and Mound roads was once home to the Ford Trim Plant, which was phased out and eventually closed in 2009.
Dr. James Dragun, a soil chemist hired by Shelby Township, said soil and groundwater samples taken near the plant has confirmed the cancer-causing contamination exists at the site. Reports identify those chemicals as trichloroethylene and trichloroethane — both potentially hazardous substances that can lead to health problems.
“We believe the chemicals did originate from the Ford plant and their operations,” he said. “There is a threat. Now, whether the threat actually turns into something physical depends on what’s done or what isn’t done.”
Dragun said the township officials are currently in litigation with the auto company to create a plan to clean the site.
“We’re estimating right now approximately $150 million and approximately one year of time to clean up the contamination that we know of today. We’ve got to remember though that every day you delay, the contamination spreads and it gets a little bigger and a little bigger, and potentially more dangerous,” he said.
Dragun said for the safety of all neighboring residents, action needs to be taken now.
“It’s migrating as each day goes by. You functionally are in a position, and we don’t see this happen very often, where you actually can catch something before it spreads widely across a residential area,” he said.
Speaking at a community gathering Wednesday night, Shelby Township Attorney Rob Huth said Ford should fund the cleanup process.
“The second step would be to have Ford Motor Company clean the property to the standard that Dr. Dragun says it needs to be cleaned to,” he said. “Our view is, we have a resolution and we’re waiting to see what their resolution is. Hopefully their resolution is something we can approve here and is a speedy cleanup of the property.”
Ford said it continues to study the situation with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and has yet to determine what actions may need to be taken.
“We have kept local residents apprised of our activities, and will continue to do so as the process develops. We take this issue seriously and remain committed to doing what is right for the community and the environment,” Ford said in a statement.