Officials share good news on toxic ooze to skeptical public

Officials say there is good news about the green ooze that seeped onto I-696 in Madison Heights in December.

At a meeting Monday night, the Madison Heights mayor says it has been contained, the drinking water is safe - and property values will not be impacted. 

But the question is, do people who live in the area and other activists believe any of it. 

Hundreds filled the auditorium of Madison Heights High School and they brought their concerns over the ooze with them. 

"(I want to know) the extent of the pollution, the effect of how they are going to clean it up and what does it mean for my property values," said Merri Busch, Madison Heights.

"I was concerned about the environment as well in Madison Heights, I just wanted to get some information," said Michelle George, of Detroit.
These concerns were aimed primarily at the Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy and the federal EPA -  who blamed Gary Sayers, the Electroplating Services owner.

"His name is Gary Sayers and he is in federal prison,” said Tracy Kecskemeti of EGLE.

Sayers is in prison right now and still owns the electroplating company. the source of the cancer causing chemical leak. By explaining what happened and what is being done, the state and federal agencies hope transparency will rebuild any lack of trust people might have. 

"They were acknowledging you don't have trust, they were open with that," George said.

"The people that are in charge are doing what they are supposed to do," said Busch.

They consider it under control. with no threat to public health by air or water. However, they concede this particular site while visible to the naked eye, represents a small drop in a very contaminated bucket. 

"There are 9,000 contaminated properties in southeast Michigan," said Kecskemeti. "We are currently working on state-funded cleanup at 60 of them. There is not enough money."

She added that they barely have the budget to get this under control let alone tackle the other sites in the region. 

As far as cost for the clean-up, the state officials say it too early to say but estimate the figures to be in the millions and they don’t expect much help from Sayers serving a one-year prison sentence.