City: No public danger from River Rouge oil spill during Northville Downs demolition

After oil spilled into the Rouge River on Friday during the demolition of the former Northville Downs racetrack, the city assured its residents on Monday that there is no danger to the public.

"The concerns all started on Friday night when I saw a hazmat extraction truck here, and they were extracting oil and I knew there was a spill," said Steve Pichan, a Northville resident concerned about the spill.

The demolition was underway around 4 p.m. on Friday, making way for a new development project called The Downs. The project will provide new housing and parks in the area.

Drums of motor oil and kerosene were stored in one of the old buildings on the site. During the demolition process, the liquids were released into the river.

People who live in the area are worried.

"How far downstream is it? Are they putting up barriers?" Pichan asked.

Northville emergency services, including a hazmat team from Wayne County and a private contractor, responded to the site, according to the city. There is no threat to the public, as containment procedures were implemented in a timely manner.

"The opinion of our experts –which are our fire chief, the HazMat Team from Western Wayne and also the EGLE representative– was that the response was proper and timely, given the situation," said Northville's city manager, George Lahanas.

While the majority of the cleanup has been completed, experts will continue to monitor the situation and conduct soil and water testing.

"What they’re doing is final clean up, so removing some of the contaminated materials from the building – including a little bit of asphalt and potentially some soil from the area," Lahanas said.

FOX 2 Detroit reached out to the developer for comment. A media spokesperson deferred to the City of Northville.


Oil spilled into Rouge River at former Northville Downs site

Some quantities, which have not yet been publicly released, of motor oil and kerosene were spilled into the Rouge River just after 4 p.m. June 21.