U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) released the following statement regarding the collapse of a contaminated site into the Detroit River near a water intake site:
“This week, my team and I became aware of the collapse of dock at the Revere Copper site into the Detroit River near an intake site for a water system that services millions of people across Michigan. It is alarming that we, like many others, only became aware of this through a news report a week after the incident occurred at a site that once processed radioactive materials.
“My office has been in contact with the EPA’s Region 5 office as well as the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Both the EPA and EGLE have made assurances to our office that based on testing done by the Department of Energy and EPA in the 1980s as the site was decommissioned and testing done by EGLE in April of this year, there is no current risk of exposure to radioactive material. I am also aware that testing for radiation at the site was conducted by EGLE, EPA, and the FBI today, and that they have informed my office that no radiation was found today.
“This afternoon, I sent a letter to both EPA and EGLE requesting additional information of past testing and in-depth information on what health and environmental risks may exist due to the collapse, including any risks to our public drinking water system. In the spirit of transparency and trust, it is imperative that these agencies are as forthcoming and engaging with the public as possible with what is going on and what has occurred. The public deserves nothing less.
“Those assurances notwithstanding, there are still major unanswered questions about what was spilled into the river when the dock collapsed, what pollutants may have been exposed by the collapse and disturbance of the river bed, and what testing and remediation will take place to ensure the site is safe and that the collapse has not endangered our public health.
“Detroit Bulk Storage and Revere Dock LLC have put their own profits ahead of the public’s well-being by not following processes that protect public health and our environment. They did not notify officials of the incident, instead working to cover up the collapse without proper safety equipment. Our residents don’t deserve to continue to be dumped on by corporate polluters with no accountability, and I expect the owners and operators of this site to be held accountable swiftly, including by providing answers about what happened to the public and paying for any cleanup and remediation that is necessary.
“Moreover, I have significant concerns about the delay in both notifying the public about this collapse and the government regulatory agencies’ response, as it appears that EPA and EGLE found out about the collapse through media inquiries from the Windsor Star.
“EGLE has primary responsibility for the response and any cleanup, and EPA has committed to supporting EGLE in any way it can. EGLE is on site today and its response is ongoing, and EGLE will provide another update to our office and local stakeholders on Monday. EGLE has committed to working with the Great Lakes Water Authority and Detroit Water and Sewage Department to understand their water testing procedures and ensure there is no threat to our public drinking water. GLWA today issued a statement confirming that they will be testing water at their facilities for radionucleotides.
“This incident appears to be yet another example of the need to have tight safeguards for industry, especially those who operate near resources that millions depend out. Every family should have clean air and clean water – any incident that endangers that should be given the utmost urgency. My office will continue to push for answers and ensure that no one is being put in harm’s way, urge EPA and EGLE to conduct all necessary testing to ensure public health, and will relay information to the public as soon as we are able.”