Livonia homeowners sue Ford Motor Co for toxic land claims

- More than 100 Livonia households are now suing Ford Motor Company.

Those residents say because of what happened here decades ago their health has been at risk for years and they never knew it. Now their neighborhood has been marked as contaminated and their property values are nose-diving.

How much has it lost? "In my opinion, all of it," said Bruce Tenniswood. "I don't feel this house is salable."

These quaint homes in Livonia's Alden Village neighborhood may not be worth the toxic land they're on top of.

More than a 130 homeowners there are suing Ford Motor Company for lost property values after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

They allege in a lawsuit the automaker spent years releasing cancer causing chemicals into the ground from its transmission plant on Plymouth Road.

"Chemicals that are directly linked to the conditions that people have in this neighborhood," Tenniswood said.

MDEQ says carcinogens like vinyl chloride and trichloroethylene have been seeping into their soil and groundwater.

"Most of the homes do not have basements, they have crawl spaces," said resident Monica O'Connor. "So the vapor then gathers into the crawl spaces and seeps into the homes.

It poses not only serious health risks but can also deep-six property values.

"Most of us have added on to our homes," O'Connor said. "We spent a lot of time and money on making it a nice home for our family and now to have all of that go to waste, it's very frustrating."

They say they pleaded with the state to take action, but to no avail. And when they tried to take matters in their own hands, the state filed and settled their lawsuit at the last minute, Tenniswood said.

MDEQ, which sued Ford, says it's "ensuring the public will be protected through a settled and enforceable agreement, including a requirement for ongoing public outreach by Ford."

But people living there are doubtful the same department that bungled the Flint water crisis will make Ford clean up the chemicals it released.

"I'm sorry but I'm skeptical," said Tenniswood. "I have a problem with an agency that's done nothing for two years and then at the last minute steps in and says we're going to fix it now."

FOX 2 reached out to Ford Motor Company for comment and a spokesperson provided a statement:

"We will continue to work closely with the city of Livonia and the MDEQ to address the issue. Importantly, all samples collected to date show no health risk to residents, and drinking water is not at risk."

WEB UPDATE (Wednesday): Ford Motor Co. has released a new statement:

“We remain fully committed to protecting the environment. All community samples collected to date show no health risk to residents or drinking water.

"When we discovered the issue, we promptly alerted the MDEQ and the plant’s neighbors. Since then, we have actively worked with the MDEQ and investigated the potential for groundwater contamination, culminating in our settlement with the State of Michigan in July that includes plans for addressing the neighborhood and continued public outreach.

"Throughout this process, we have worked quickly and cooperatively with the state and community to keep everyone fully informed of our progress.”

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