The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Wayne County Health Department (WCHD) are recommending residents of the Flat Rock area bounded by I-75 to the east, Gibraltar Road to the north, Cahill Road to the west and Woodruff Road to the south evacuate their homes until further notice due to the potential risks caused by fumes from a gasoline leak from a storage tank at the Ford Motor Co.’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant. Response teams will go door-to-door immediately beginning Sunday, Sept. 5, in affected areas to ensure residents are informed and receive quick and accurate information about evacuation.
In addition to the smaller geographic area described above, there is a broader area of Flat Rock under investigation for potential exposure. This area is bounded by Gibraltar Road to the north, Sheeks Road to the west, East Huron River Drive to the south, and Tamarack Road to the East, as well as buildings along Woodruff between East Huron River Drive and Cahill Road. MDHHS and Wayne County want to make the residents aware of the potential for the chemicals to have traveled to this area and that the area will be under investigation. If residents are concerned about potential exposure to chemicals in their home, they may want to evacuate their homes until further information is available.
At this time, it is unclear which specific homes may be at risk and it is possible residents in some areas of the potentially impacted area have not been exposed. The City of Flat Rock, WCHD, MDHHS, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) continue to work together to understand the potential risks and will update the community as more information is learned. If you need assistance with evacuation and/or relocation, please call Flat Rock’s hotline at 734-782-2455, ext. 6.
The community is at risk of exposure to high levels of benzene, considered a total Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), which can be harmful to human health. Measurements of air inside buildings and sewer lines have shown levels of VOCs exceeding health protective and/or explosive levels.
Benzene is a flammable and colorless liquid with a sweet odor used to make other chemicals. It is found in gasoline, crude oil and tobacco smoke. Breathing in higher levels of benzene can cause people to feel sleepy or dizzy, have headaches, vomit or have a rapid heart rate. Both long- and short-term exposure to benzene can increase risks of cancer, cause blood problems, and harm the immune system. Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms or health concerns, or if you believe you may have been exposed.
“We urge Michiganders in the affected areas to take swift action and evacuate their homes,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “You may not be able to see or smell the vapors that could put your health at risk, and we recommend everyone in the affected area consider relocating until further notice and we can confirm it is safe to return to your homes.”
On Aug. 31, MDHHS received a report regarding a potential release of an unknown chemical into the sewer. Along with local, state and federal partners, MDHHS responded to investigate and address the concerns which resulted in confirmation of harmful vapors in the community.
Air sampling conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified elevated levels of VOCs throughout the Flat Rock sanitary sewer system. Partners are working to slow the spread of these chemicals and stop further exposure. Continued monitoring will measure the impact of the contamination in the sewer lines throughout Flat Rock.
MDHHS partnered with the City of Flat Rock, the Wayne County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to identify the source, which was confirmed Friday as being the Flat Rock Assembly Plant.
As this is an evolving situation, we will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Posted by The Huron Hub | Sept. 2, 2021 | 10:40 p.m. EST
Governor Gretchen Whitmer today declared a state of emergency for the City of Flat Rock and Wayne and Monroe counties, after an unknown odor was detected in the city’s sewer system.
“We are working closely with local officials and emergency crews to investigate the source of these fumes and protect the safety of residents in the area,” said Governor Whitmer. “My top priority is ensuring that every resource is available to the City of Flat Rock, Wayne County, and Monroe County to determine where the odor originated, so that we can clean up the affected area and prevent further harm. I’m grateful to the leadership in the City of Flat Rock, Wayne County, Monroe County, and all of the first responders who have been on the ground keeping people safe.”
By declaring a state of emergency, Governor Whitmer has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) to coordinate state efforts above and beyond what MSP/EMHSD has already been doing in conjunction with local agencies.
“The Flat Rock community should be able to go to sleep tonight knowing that their homes and businesses remain safe, and that clean-up efforts are already underway,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. “Working with the EPA, state, county, and city leaders, we were able to mobilize immediately and take concrete steps to address this issue before it reached additional homes and put more of our neighbors at risk. As we rapidly begin clean-up efforts, I thank the EPA, Governor Whitmer, and our partners on the ground for working quickly to enact this state of emergency to get our community the resources they need now.”
On September 1, the City of Flat Rock declared a local state of emergency after discovering high levels of an unknown gas in the city sewer system and nearby homes. Hazmat teams have worked around the clock to evacuate impacted areas and to find the source of the fumes. Wayne County also declared a state of emergency and requested the governor’s declaration.
The declaration of a local state of emergency activates local emergency response and recovery plans. By requesting a governor’s declaration, the county has determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect the health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of a crisis.
Here is an update from MDOT on the massive I-275 project currently happening in western Wayne County.
Wednesday, July 28 – Wednesday, Aug. 4:
The eastbound Eureka Road ramp to northbound I-275 will be closed.
The westbound Eureka Road ramp to southbound I-275 will be closed.
Monday, Aug. 2 – mid-September:
Northbound I-275 will have the right lane closed from I-94 to 5 Mile Road for the widening of the right shoulders for future use as a lane during work to rebuild I-275 in 2022.
6 Mile Road will be closed over I-275 for bridge improvements through early October with traffic detoured:
I-275/6 Mile Road detours:
Northbound I-275 traffic heading for westbound 6 Mile Road will use northbound I-275 to westbound 7 Mile Road, then southbound I-275 to westbound 6 Mile Road.
Southbound I-275 traffic heading for eastbound 6 Mile Road will use southbound I-275 to eastbound Ann Arbor Road, then northbound I-275 to eastbound 6 Mile Road.
Eastbound 6 Mile Road will be detoured to northbound Haggerty Road, then eastbound 7 Mile Road to southbound Newburgh Road back to eastbound 6 Mile Road.
Westbound 6 Mile Road will be detoured to northbound Newburgh Road, then westbound 7 Mile Road to southbound Haggerty Road back to westbound 6 Mile Road.
Wednesday, Aug. 4 – Wednesday, Aug. 11:
The southbound I-275 ramp to Eureka Road (airport entrance) will be closed. Airport access will be available on eastbound I-94 via the Merriman Road exit.
The eastbound Eureka Road ramp to southbound I-275 will be closed.
Thursday, Aug. 5 – early September
The Schoolcraft Road bridge over M-14, west of Haggerty Road, is closing for improvements.
Westbound M-14 will have single-lane closures under Schoolcraft Road. The bike trail underneath Schoolcraft Road will be temporarily closed.
Schoolcraft Road detours:
Eastbound Schoolcraft Road traffic will be detoured to eastbound 5 Mile Road, then southbound Haggerty Road back to eastbound Schoolcraft Road.
Westbound Schoolcraft Road traffic will be detoured to northbound Haggerty Road, then westbound 5 Mile Road back to westbound Schoolcraft Road.
Lane restrictions through late fall:
I-275 will have one lane open in each direction between I-94 and South Huron Road for concrete pavement repairs. Crews will be shifting the southbound I-275 lane closures this week, which will leave only the left lane open. The northbound I-275 shift will occur next week, leaving only the right lane open.
Pennsylvania Road remains closed over I-275 with traffic detoured to Sibley Road through late August.
During this major multi-year project, work will be occurring in multiple areas at different times. Go to http://www.Revive275.org for more project details and updates.
Metroparks had previously sent out an alert that the pool at Lake Erie Metropark was set to open this week. During final pre-opening operations and tests, a section of marcite (the cement-like finish in the inside of the pool walls) unexpectedly failed leaving sharp edges and causing conditions unsafe for swimming.
“The safety of our visitors is our highest priority, so the pool will not be able to open tomorrow,” the Metroparks said in a press release.
The repair requires staff to drain the pool and repair the surface. Because of the time it will take to complete the repair, the pool will unfortunately not re-open this year.
Visitors can still cool off in other pools at Willow and Lake St. Clair Metroparks and can enjoy Turtle Cover Family Aquatic Center at Lower Huron Metropark or splash pads at Kensington, Indian Springs or Lake St. Clair Metroparks.
After being closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pool at Lake Erie Metropark is set to open on Friday, July 23.
“The Metroparks are still experiencing a shortage of lifeguards, so the pool will welcome visitors this season with some limited capacities and operational changes,” a statement from the Metroparks said.
• The pool will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Noon – 7 p.m. • Pool entry will be $4.00 per person. • The pool will operate as a flat pool and there will be no waves. • The spray features on the deck will be in operation. • Flotation tubes and life jackets will be available for use. • The food bar will not be open. • The pool capacity will be limited to the first 500 swimmers each day. • Pricing and more details can be found at this link.
In addition to the Lake Erie Metropark pool, visitors can cool off in five other constructed water facilities throughout Southeast Michigan (Willow Metropark pool, Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center, Lake St. Clair Metropark pool, Kensington Metropark Splash ‘N’ Blast, Indian Springs Metropark Spray ‘N’ Play).
For visitors looking for a natural water experience, they can visit beaches at three Metroparks, hop on the Huron or Clinton rivers in multiple locations or enjoy boating, fishing and paddling on inland lakes.