I hope that the start of 2020 is treating you well! We have been busy working on legislation, monitoring various environmental issues, and planning programs for the year. Read on for updates.
On January 24, please join Rep. Camilleri and me for a summit focused on senior issues. Special guests include Attorney General Dana Nessel and experts from the Senior Alliance, Kari West and Michelle Danou. We will be discussing identity theft, legal rights, elder abuse, services available to seniors, senior employment, how to avoid scams, and more.
Date: Friday, January 24
EGLE INVESTIGATION UPDATE: Potentially hazardous liquids at Detroit property of convicted Electro-Plating Services owner Gary Sayers
On Friday night, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) notified me that they were investigating potentially hazardous chemicals discovered at a Detroit property a few blocks north of my district, near Woodbridge. The property is owned by Gary Sayers, who was recently imprisoned for violations of environmental laws at his company, Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights.
Detroit Fire Department and Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) inspectors observed red and green liquids at the location, 5900 Commonwealth Street. Today, a contractor will be pulling samples for testing. EGLE will be expediting the testing, which will test for metals, chromium-6, PFAS, and SVOCs. Once the testing is complete, they can pump out the materials. When the site was inspected on January 2 as part of the probe of contamination that had seeped out of his Madison Heights facility onto the I-696 freeway, the substances were not discovered.
EGLE had investigated this site going back to 2005. The owner had previously transported hundreds of drums of hazardous material from the Madison Heights site to the Detroit site back in 2007. There was a joint inspection by the city and state in 2014.
I am very concerned about hazardous materials at this site given the potential impact on our environment and public health. I will continue regular communication with EGLE, BSEED and other entities as appropriate. I have begun conversations with my colleagues as we research potential ideas to address enforcement and remediation issues in state law.
BRIDGE AREA COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
Earlier this year, the Gordie Howe International Bridge team announced community benefits, which included grantmaking for Delray and Southwest Detroit community organizations. Applications are now open for the 2020 Community Organization Investment initiative as part of the Community Benefits Plan. The Neighborhood Infrastructure Strategy of the Community Benefits Plan includes a commitment to provide a $50,000 (CAD) annual investment allowance for community organizations located in or servicing Sandwich/West Windsor or Delray/Southwest Detroit for a five-year duration from 2020 – 2024.
Eligible organizations can submit funding applications until January 31, 2020 for proposed initiatives ranging from $1,000 and $25,000 (CAD) for events, programming and infrastructure improvements that will benefit the Sandwich or Southwest Detroit neighborhoods.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team is holding two open house meetings to discuss the Community Organization Investment initiative as part of the Community Benefits Plan. Join us on Wednesday, January 15 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the WDBA office, 7744 W. Vernor Hwy., to learn more about the available funding, application process and eligibility requirements.
I-75 PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS
On Thursday, I was proud to stand with Governor Whitmer and officials from the City of Detroit, WDBA and Bridging North America to unveil the design for the five pedestrian bridges being constructed as part of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
Southwest Detroit is a resilient community that is tightly knit among its people although a major freeway separates it physically. Many Delray and Southwest Detroit residents have advocated for a “Bridge with benefits” for more than a decade.
Since I first took office in 2015, it has been a great honor to work collaboratively with Delray and Southwest Detroit residents, the state, the city, and the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority on community benefits and quality of life issues related to the Gordie Howe International Bridge. I’ve been a member of the Community Advisory Group since its inception in 2015. We meet monthly and I have appreciated the uniquely consistent and collaborative relationship with each of the stakeholders here.
We saw incredible progress in 2017 with historic city-state agreements for community benefits and important protections for the community – including monitoring air quality, a home swap program, and more. And in June 2019, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority announced more community benefits initiatives that residents have long been asking for.
Residents of Southwest Detroit have needed better connectivity across I-75. These greatly improved pedestrian crossings and walkable overpasses being built will help residents going to and from CHASS --the community health services center south of the freeway-- to get quality accessible health care. Residents who want to walk or bike down to Fort Wayne will be able to use these new and improved crossings as well. These are important quality of life enhancements.
The pedestrian bridge design features a curved steel arch and will be constructed of pre-cast concrete. The bridges will include lighting features and will be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The pedestrian bridges will be located over Interstate 75 (I-75) in Detroit at Solvay Street, Beard Street, Waterman Street, Junction Street and Lansing Street.
Last week’s announcement is another step forward for the project and for infrastructure improvements in Southwest Detroit. Big infrastructure projects like border crossings and freeways do impact their host communities and we can and will continue to achieve solutions that work for everyone.
JAN. 23: MCLOUTH CAG WORKSHOP
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting a Community Advisory Group (CAG) Workshop for the Former McLouth Steel Superfund Site. The meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Westfield Activities Center, located at 2700 Westfield Road in Trenton.
Using input from the November 2019 meeting, EPA’s community engagement team will present a draft process for the development of the CAG and what role it will play. Community members will help revise and finalize the process while identifying the next steps in forming the CAG.
For more information, please see EPA's CAG informational sheet and meeting flyer. If you know someone interested in being involved, please forward this information along and encourage community members to subscribe to receive updates from EGLE related to the former McLouth Superfund site.
DETROIT BULK STORAGE DOCK COLLAPSE UPDATE
My office continues to monitor developments at the site of the dock collapse into the Detroit River on the former Revere Copper property. As you may have seen in the media, a sinkhole has developed on the property, and the effects of significant temperature differences and weather conditions are contributing to further erosion. EGLE, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers met with the property owners last week.
On Friday, January 10, well after the December 26 deadline to submit a plan, Revere Dock LLC finally submitted its response to notifications regarding the Detroit Bulk Storage aggregate spill remediation. A timeline of these events and a link to their plan is available here. The property owner has installed a 5-foot skirt around the property to buffer the impact of wave action to mitigate further erosion. They have ordered a 20-foot skirt which should arrive later this month and be installed to further protect the area. In two weeks, an interim response plan will be submitted to EGLE as a long-term restoration plan is developed after further geotechnical testing and aggregate removal.
On December 27, 2019, EPA and EGLE revisited the site to collect additional water and soil samples. The EPA testing detected several chemicals at the site. In one soil sample, lead exceeded EPA removal management levels. Great Lakes Water Authority has received the first round of results from their water intake testing, which showed no substances above background levels. They expect the second round of results in a few weeks. For information about test results, the violation notice, letters to the property owners and more, visit EGLE’S website.
Since mid-December my office has been consulting with state and federal agencies, environmental justice groups, residents, and other interested stakeholders to discuss how we can prevent similar occurrences in the future. We are working as swiftly and thoroughly as we can on legislative solutions to ensure the safety of our drinking water and our neighborhoods. In particular, we are exploring legislation regarding stronger notification requirements when our waterways could become contaminated, a statewide risk assessment and public database regarding contaminated properties along major waterways, and inspections of docks and seawalls located on properties identified as potentially hazardous.
U.S. STEEL IDLING PARTS OF RIVER ROUGE PLANT
In late December, I was notified that U.S. Steel is indefinitely idling a large portion of their operations at the River Rouge plant. It is unfortunate that our hardworking men and women are again paying the price for Washington’s detrimental policies that have led to the market conditions US Steel and so many others have been facing.
I talked with the director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, which includes the Unemployment Insurance Agency, the evening of the announcement. I connected the director with the president of the United Steelworkers Local 1299. I will continue to be in communication with LEO, USW Local 1299, city officials, and others so that we can ensure working families have access to the necessary programs and support systems they might need. I strongly encourage anyone affected by these layoffs to contact my office to learn more about resources that can help.
Thank you for reading this update! You can check out our list of upcoming coffee hours and other events on my website at SenatorStephanieChang.com or reach out to my office in Detroit at (313) 922-6949, and in Lansing at (517) 373-7346 or toll-free at (855) DIST001 (855-347-8001).