A Detroit property contaminated with uranium and other dangerous chemicals partially collapsed into the Detroit River on Nov. 26, confirmed officials on December 5, 2019.
The site known as the Detroit Dock allegedly collapsed under the weight of large aggregate piles that were stored at the site during Thanksgiving weekend.
The news is especially concerning because the Detroit drinking water intake lines are nearby downriver.
The property has been listed by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency as a contaminated site due to its use of uranium and other dangerous chemicals during manufacturing dating to the 1940s.
Located at 5851 West Jefferson, the property formerly was a Revere Copper and Brass site. Revere Copper was subcontracted in the 1940s to build the world’s first atomic bomb and continued to make uranium rods in the 1950s.
The site has faced scrutiny regarding safety hazards and who would be held responsible for its cleanup.
According to a 2011 evaluation study by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the property, at that time there was a “potential … for significant residual radiation.”
Radioactive Spill Unnoticed
Due to the timing of the collapse, the spill went unnoticed to many responsible state and federal environmental regulatory agencies. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials were not aware of the collapse until contacted by the Windsor Star on Wednesday.
WDBA’s Mark Butler said Wednesday, “WDBA is aware of the spill of aggregate from a marine facility into the Detroit River. We are committed to the highest levels of environmental protection and are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the matter.”
Workers were seen from Windsor’s west end with backhoes near the crumbled area, which was partially sagging and submerged underwater, the Star reported.
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said in a statement Thursday:
“EGLE is aware that the site was previously used to process uranium and there is no evidence to suggest that there is a current radiological risk. EGLE has no reason to believe PCBs or other contaminants from the site are a hazard to the public or the environment. However, EGLE intends to continue investigating potential impacts as part of its assessment of the incident. On Friday, we expect to observe the site by boat and drone flight.“
According to a statement by the City of Detroit, “The City, including the Mayor’s office, has been in close communication throughout the day with its partners at EGLE, which has jurisdiction over this matter. … We will continue to stay in close communication with EGLE as it continues its investigation.“
CANADA Not Convinced
However, Member of Canadian Parliament Brian Masse of Windsor West is not convinced.
Masse hand-delivered a letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, calling for an immediate binational investigation into the Revere Copper Site dock collapse, according to a public statement.
Masse is concerned that the “site is currently rated high for contamination because of the residual contamination present.“
“An immediate study should be conducted on the dangers presented to the Detroit waterways and Great Lakes region. Forty million people use the Great Lakes for drinking water, and the ecosystem is already fragile. Any potential threat should be investigated immediately on both sides of the border,” stated Masse.
Considering a radioactive leak, I would also want officials to take care of the situation rapidly… Because that could turn into a nightmare for millions of families. [Detroit Free Press]