MADISON HEIGHTS (WWJ) Rusty barrels, green ooze on the floor, stacks of oddball electrical equipment haphazardly all over the place, plastic sheeting in lieu of walls and ceiling tiles … It sounds like the setting for an apocalyptic movie, but it was reality at one Madison Heights factory.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday delivered a cease and desist order to Electro-Plate Service, Inc. (EPS) in Madison Heights for “endangerment of the public and environment” after what they term repeated willful violations of hazardous waste regulations.
“This particular company has been given several opportunities to comply but continues to ignore the most basic requirements of public safety,” said C. Heidi Grether, MDEQ director. “It’s location, within 500 feet of residential neighbors and overlooking I-696, poses an imminent threat that could cause untold damage to people and the environment.”
Officials said they had worked with the Madison Heights Fire Department to help EPS meet its safety obligations to the community, but the company has “shown only recalcitrance and is now closed until the site can be cleared of hazardous materials.”
Click here for a photo gallery of the messy — and dangerous — shop.
MDEQ personnel conducted a complaint inspection at EPS, 945 E. Ten Mile Rd., Madison Heights on November 15, 2016. The joint inspection with the city Fire Department found an imminent and substantial threat to human health and the environment.
Inspectors found an estimated 5,000 containers of hazardous waste, hazardous materials and unknown contents, the majority of which are improperly stored, unlabeled, open and corroded or in very poor condition. Chemicals and wastes are stockpiled in extreme disorder and the building is severely dilapidated. Chemical spills were found throughout the facility.
On December 2, 2016, MDEQ Office of Waste Management and Radiological Protection issued a second violation notice that required a company response by December 16, 2016 that would detail actions it had taken to achieve compliance or a work plan and schedule to address outstanding violations.
Among materials of concern to MDEQ found at the facility were highly corrosive chemicals that could cause irreversible tissue damage to humans after a single exposure. Suspected chemicals at the site include cyanides, hydrochloric acid, chromium, and trichloroethylene.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on December 16, 2016, found conditions at the property to be an imminent and substantial hazard to public health. The combination of cyanide and hydrochloric acid onsite with large amounts of water, as is used in firefighting, could produce a highly toxic cloud of hydrogen cyanide in a high-density area.
The Madison Heights Fire Department, an ambulance service, nine daycare, schools and senior living facilities are within one mile of the facility. Also, within a one mile radius is the intersection of I-696 and I-75 which serve 350,000 vehicles per day.
This closure was the only course of action to address ongoing non-compliance, including previous criminal enforcement action and a prior consent order in which the company agreed to clean-up the site and operate in compliance with the law. EPS has the right to appeal the cease and desist order under applicable state law.
The MDEQ action is consistent with the Madison Heights Fire Department’s decision Tuesday to revoke the facility’s certificate of occupancy based on their determination that the EPS building and its contents pose a significant and imminent threat to the community.
“The Fire Department should be commended for its swift action to have the facility boarded up, secured, and monitored. MDEQ will coordinate with local, state, and federal partners to ensure the facility is addressed up as quickly as possible,” the MDEQ said in a press release.