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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

From Contamination to Evacuation at Hall and Madison

Mariano Avila

As residents and businesses wait for the Environmental Protection Agency testing at a site near Hall and Madison, WGVU’s Mariano Avila tells us how the situation began and where things stand today.

It was in 2013 that officials first realized the site was contaminated from having been a dry cleaner in a previous life. Abigail Hendershott is an environmental quality analyst with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She’s the one that figured out there was a problem.

“We had gotten some initial data as part of the baseline environmental assessment and then as they were redeveloping the property they submitted some additional data to us that had some elevated levels of the dry cleaning chemicals Tetrachloroethylene in the soils and in the ground water.”

The high levels of the chemical at 413 Hall simply meant the developer had to put in a special vapor barrier. But Hendershott decided to keep an eye on that site.

“I applied for some state funding to try to start a ground water investigation back in 2014 and actually got the funds in 2015.”

With the funds, Hendershott put in monitoring wells around the site to see where the groundwater was flowing. Once she realized there was a vapor intrusion risk, she installed soil-gas points around the original sites as well as in the neighborhood.

“The 401 Hall building and the 1168 Madison building looked like it was in the most contaminated area, so we took further steps to evaluate that impact.”   

As of today, the testing for indoor air in the adjacent buildings came back looking good, so the DEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency will be focusing efforts on testing the surrounding homes and properties. Until the testing and results are done though, the waiting continues for the displaced residents and the folks hoping to get back to work at the site. 

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