It sounds like a scene from a Ghostbusters movie. Liquid evil oozes onto the highway of a gritty city, endangering residents and throwing the area into disarray. However, in this universe, Walter Peck is one of the good guys, and instead of raising mink coats from the dead, the slime might give you cancer. Unfortunately, instead of playing in theaters, it played out in real life.
There's something weird, and it don't look good
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, in December 2019, “a bright-green liquid gushed from a freeway wall onto I-696.” The mysterious eruption stranded thousands of drivers in traffic and led caused days of lane closures. And that’s not even the scary part. If you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, it won’t matter because the thing to fear here was hexavalent chromium, and Ray Parker Jr. didn’t make a song about that.
MLive writes that the chemical is used for textile dyes, wood preservation, and inks. West Michigan news outlet Fox 17 says hexavalent chromium can damage the respiratory system, liver, skin, kidneys, and eyes. Moreover, it’s carcinogenic so if you work with it for a living, perhaps you have reason to be afraid of becoming a ghost. However, officials have claimed it the spill didn’t pose “an imminent risk to the public.” But how did this liquid cancer end up sliming a highway?
It came from the basement of the now-defunct Electro-Plating Services. Formerly owned by Gary Sayers, the place was shut down, and Sayers was placed in prison for dangerous waste management practices. According to Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, “Sayers’ knowing, illegal storage of waste cyanide, highly corrosive wastes, toxic chromium waste, and reactive wastes posed a significant danger and threat to nearby communities and the environment.”
Sayers admitted to hand-digging a pit in the basement of his factory, where he dumped a toxic cocktail of chemical waste. He then pumped it into the city’s sewers. This potentially went on for years. Electro-Plating Services received a cease-and-desist order in 2016, and crews tried to clean up the place. However, the soil and groundwater were left untouched, eventually leading to the green eruption years later. In November 2019, a court slapped Sayers’ company with a $1.5 million fine, and Sayers was sentenced to a year behind bars.
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