In a scene reminiscent of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a glowing green ooze was seen pouring out of a hole in a retaining wall on I-696 just north of Detroit in late December. Exit 19 to Couzens Avenue going eastbound on I-696 was closed pending investigation and testing of the green ooze. It was discovered that the ooze was leaking from underground storage of these chemical by a business called Electro-Plating Services Inc. that was situated just above the freeway. The storage of these chemicals was found to be illegal to begin with and the investigation that followed led to the federal indictment and conviction of the owner of Electro-Plating Services Inc.
What Is The Green Ooze?
An investigation into what the green ooze actually is determined that there were numerous toxins in the soil and groundwater at the site, at very high levels. One of the toxins discovered at the site in high levels was hexavalent chromium. This chemical is associated with kidney and liver damage and can also cause cancer. Two other toxic chemicals were also present, Trichloroethlene (TCE) and cyanide. It was discovered that instead of properly disposing of these chemicals offsite, the company simply stored the chemicals in drums underground. The basement of the facility was leaking and led to this green ooze spill on eastbound I-696. Luckily, state officials have made the conclusion that the green ooze has not made it into drinking water and poses no risk to do so.
Business Owner Jailed
The owner of Electro-Plating Services Inc. is already serving a year in federal prison for illegally storing hazardous wastes in a separate matter. According to the plea agreement in the case, the owner used various dangerous chemicals that are used for electroplating in the course of his business. When it was necessary to dispose of the chemicals after they were used, the owner simply just kept the chemicals on site instead of sending them away for proper disposal. He was given multiple and repeated warnings from the state before his charge and conviction.
Property Now Subject To Forfeiture
While the owner of Electro-Plating is serving time, his five properties have fallen even further behind on their taxes, subjecting the properties to possible forfeiture. Electro-Plating properties now owes over $30,000 in back taxes and interest going back to 2017. If the taxes remain unpaid, the property will be foreclosed on beginning March 31, 2020. Electro-Plating has been shut down since 2016. It appears that the properties have just mostly remained dormant, and in the years since it was shut down, it was their lack of maintenance that contributed to the green ooze spill on I-696.
The Cleanup Effort
For weeks, emergency cleanup crews have been pumping the green ooze and the contaminated ground water out from the site of the spill. Vacuuming up all of this ooze won’t be cheap. The current cleanup effort also doesn’t really solve the entire problem as the soil in the area is still contaminated, and that will have to be dealt with once the groundwater issue is handled. The cost for all of this is expected to be in the millions of dollars. The jailed owner had promised to pay $1.5 million for the cleanup effort of his prior case, but nothing has been paid as of yet. It is not expected that the owner will actually foot the bill for this cleanup effort, and the costs for this cleanup will likely fall on taxpayers.
Any Further Questions?
If you have any questions related to this article or are facing potential criminal charges due to the illegal storing of toxic chemicals, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is being investigated or charged with a similar offense, it is imperative that you seek the advice of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients statewide on criminal charges. We have been successful in both state and federal court in helping our clients. Feel free to reach out to us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.