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Storage company that caused Detroit River shoreline collapses to leave site

State officials check out the Detroit Bulk Storage site.
EGLE
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Detroit Bulk Storage was sued and fined after storing gravel and other materials too close to the shoreline. That caused a dock and part of the shoreline to collapse in 2019. The company is now leaving the site.

A storage company that caused two accidents in two years on the Detroit River is vacating its site.

Detroit Bulk Storage stored gravel and other materials too close to the river in 2019, and a dock and part of the shoreline collapsed into the river. The same thing happened in 2021 when part of a seawall collapsed.

Officials were especially concerned about the 2019 incident, because it happened upstream from a drinking water intake for Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

There were worries that the spilled sediment could be radioactive, because a company that handled uranium materials operated on the site in the 1940s and 1950s. But subsequent testing by state environmental regulators showed below-background levels of radioactivity, and no contamination of the drinking water supply.

The owners of Detroit Bulk Storage could not be reached for comment.

Erma Leaphart is with the Sierra Club. She said the company received fine after fine for improper storage practices.

"Whatever the reason [for them leaving], I'm glad they're gone, because they were not a good corporate citizen and they were causing harm to others," she said.

After the Detroit Bulk Storage accident, Detroit's city council approved a new ordinance designed to make companies responsible for how they impact the river. Leaphart said it's a move in the right direction to make sure businesses practices along the river are not just profitable, but sustainable for the environment and protective of public health.

"And I do believe [city officials] are prepared to do the enforcement necessary to make sure that it works, right? That we are in fact protecting the river," she said.

Leaphart also said she hopes to see significant sediment cleanup projects in the river using funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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