PONTIAC, MI – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has identified the chemicals found in a storage tank underneath Franklin Village Plaza in Franklin that led to the mandatory closure of five businesses.
The multiple chemicals include Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and petroleum byproducts associated with the previous dry cleaner and gas station that were located on the property. MDEQ has emptied the chemicals from the tank utilizing best safety practices in compliance with federal and state environmental laws and regulations. The top half of the tank was removed while the bottom half was left in place and filled in to maintain structural integrity.
“The mandatory evacuation remains in effect,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County Health Division. “Further air quality testing is required and will continue throughout the weekend to assure the vapor intrusion has been resolved and to determine whether additional remediation is necessary.”
MDEQ will collect soil, groundwater and vapor samples over the coming months to assure continued protection of the public’s health and safety. Air scrubbers will remain operating inside all affected businesses to further safeguard indoor air until a permanent mitigation system is installed.
On March 5, Oakland County Health Division issued a mandatory closure notice to the businesses in the Franklin Village Plaza after the discovery of a storage tank with unknown volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The tank was discovered while MDEQ began to remediate the health risks of a vapor intrusion involving the chemicals Trichloroethylene (TCE) and Tetrachloroethylene (PCE). TCE and PCE are used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing and are likely present due to a previous dry cleaner and gas station that were on the property in the 1930s – 1970s. Please note, the current dry cleaner located in the plaza is neither responsible for this vapor intrusion nor do they conduct dry cleaning or store chemicals onsite.
The discovery of the vapor intrusion is a result of MDEQ’s ongoing statewide efforts to investigate indoor air quality resulting from known contamination sites. Samples are collected and analyzed to determine if risks to human health and the environment are present. MDEQ began taking indoor air samples at the Franklin Village Plaza site in February.
Vapor intrusion occurs when vapors (gases) from volatile chemicals in contaminated soil and/or groundwater move through the soil and into buildings through cracks in floors, walls, and gaps around service pipes. In outdoor air, these vapors are often diluted to harmless levels. When trapped in an enclosed space like a home or building, these vapors can collect and impact the indoor air quality and pose a risk to health.
At low levels over a long period of time, PCE may cause color vision loss and changes in mood, memory, attention, and reaction time. Exposure to PCE and TCE could lead to higher risk of getting certain types of cancer and birth defects.
For more information, visit www.oakgov.com/health or call Environmental Health at 248-858-1312 between 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook and Twitter. For questions regarding the MDEQ role in this site, contact Josh Scheels at 586-324-0372. For questions regarding the MDEQ Vapor Intrusion program, contact Shane Morrison @ 517-284-5063.