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EPA: Lead, uranium found after Detroit River aggregate spill

January 11, 2020 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — Federal environmental officials found uranium, lead and several chemicals during testing of an industrial site where limestone construction aggregate material spilled into the Detroit River last year, a state agency said.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said in a statement Thursday that the EPA’s testing of soil and water at the Detroit Bulk Storage detected “many heavy metals including uranium,” The Detroit News reported.

Lead in just one soil sample surpassed EPA removal management levels, the state agency said. The department noted its previous testing there “showed no radiation above background levels at each of more than 1,000 locations on the site, nor in river water upstream and downstream.”

The Great Lakes Water Authority conducted testing after the November collapse did not detect uranium in its downstream water intake, according to the release. Tests revealed several metals, such as aluminum, barium, boron and strontium but authority officials said those are naturally occurring in raw water.

“EGLE’s analysis of the results and further discussions with the EPA will inform our next steps,” the department said. “EGLE intends to hold the site’s owner, Revere Dock LLC, and Detroit Bulk Storage accountable and ensure a cleanup that is protective of public health and the environment. EGLE is also in consultation with Revere about missing a Dec. 26 deadline to provide to EGLE and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a remediation plan to remove the collapsed aggregate material from the river.”

Revere Dock LLC, the site’s owner, and the storage’s officials did not respond to requests for comment. EPA representatives could not be reached.

Noel Frye, the storage’s vice president, previously said the collapse related to consistent, heavy rain the night before and high water eroding the area. Detroit Storage is a sand and gravel storage yard business with a long-term lease on the property.

The site, formerly occupied by the Revere Copper and Brass Corp., produced uranium materials in the 1940s and 1950s. That company was a subcontractor for the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb during World War II, U.S. Department of Energy documents show.

Some community members and officials, including U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, have called for independent testing and stronger preventative measures.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is pursuing civil legal action against Revere Dock for a past due drainage bill, officials said. WDIV-TV reported that Revere Dock owed more than $62,000.