Monday, June 29, 2015

Who’s Minding Michigan’s Rivers? (Part 1)

For six decades, McLouth Steel conducted operations on the Detroit River.  It produced hot rolled, cold rolled and stainless steel, sold mostly to the auto industry.  At its peak, the company had plants in three cities along the river: Detroit, Trenton and Gibraltar.

The company filed for reorganization under the Bankruptcy Act in 1981 and again in 1995. Operations ceased and the last remnants of the company’s properties were liquidated in bankruptcy in 1996.

Buyers knew various sites were contaminated with industrial toxins which were discharging to the Detroit River, near the International Wildlife Refuge, and pledged but failed to clean them up.

The site of the Gibraltar plant was enrolled on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List (NPL) in March of this year, nearly 20 years after McLouth went out of business.  The NPL designates the worst hazardous waste sites in the nation, eligible for Superfund remediation.

“The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been operating the leachate collection system at [a contaminated landfill on site] since completion of the removal action work by using the [the contaminated landfill’s] Perpetual Care Fund, but those funds were depleted in May 2015 and the State is using alternate funding sources to continue leachate collection activities.”

Too little, too late.

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