The historic sign at the hotel praises his former life as a lamp factory for the Ford Motor Company. According to the federal regulator, the underground reservoir probably dates back to that time.
“It could have been put there in the late 1920s,” said Sean Kane, EPA scene coordinator in the Flat Rock investigation.
This is the second time in six months that a leak associated with an underground storage tank associated with Ford has damaged Flat Rock. Underground leaks are a constant problem across the country, where buried fuel tanks – many of them old, broken and forgotten until they cause problems – are responsible for thousands of leaks each year.
Crews have been searching for a source of brilliance since Feb. 21, when fishermen spotted an oily substance that exploded on the surface in the back canal of the Huron River near downtown Flat Rock.
Local fire brigades quickly put up vouchers in the river to contain the leak. State and federal response teams have been working since then to uncover the origin of the leak and find a way to stop it.
The leak continues, but vacuum cleaners suck the chemical out of the river to prevent further spread. Air monitoring in nearby areas found no volatile organic compounds or benzene gases, Kane said.
Kane said the current owner of the site, Flat Rock Metal, is cooperating with the investigation and has hired crews who eventually discovered a storage tank that was previously unknown and unused. Company officials did not respond Wednesday to a phone call from Bridge Michigan.
EPA officials did not rule out the possibility of a leak from another source, Kane said, and identified “numerous investigative plans” that they will pursue if Flat Rock Metal’s property turns out not to be the source.
But at the moment this seems unlikely: there were about 6,000 gallons of water and chemicals in the underground tank – a sign that it is not waterproof. The soil around the tank was also oily. And the reservoir is 50 feet from the stretch of river where the shine appeared.
“You can put two and two there,” Kane said.
Investigators have sent samples of chemicals from the Huron River and the contents of a storage tank to a U.S. Coast Guard lab and are awaiting an analysis that will show whether the substances are a chemical match, said Jill Greenberg, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Environment Department. and Energy (EGLE).
Results are expected this week.
Leaks from obsolete and abandoned underground tanks significant problem across the country, often lie forgotten underground until leaked.
The EPA began regulating underground storage tanks in the 1980s. But an unknown number of forgotten old tanks remain underground, many of them made of non-corroded steel.
Approximately 5,000 leaks from underground reservoirs annually led to a nationwide lag of more than 60,000 still needs to be cleaned. State and federal regulators have sought to identify and remove them in recent years, EPA spokesman Taylor Gillespie said, reaching the 500,000 mark in December.
The State Department of Licenses and Regulatory Affairs controls the underground storage facilities in Michigan. A comment from a LARA spokesman could not be reached on Tuesday or Wednesday.