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Trial continues for owner of Electro-Plating Services

green ooze
Michigan Dept. of Transportation
The trial for Gary Sayers continues Thursday. His company, Electro-Plating Services, was the source of the infamous toxic green ooze that spilled onto I-696 in December.

The city of Madison Heights is suing the owner of a business called Electro-Plating Services. Gary Sayers’ company was the source of the now infamous toxic green ooze that appeared on I-696 in December. The trial for the lawsuit against Sayers resumes on Thursday.

Michigan Radio reporter Tracy Samilton has been covering it and she joined Morning Edition host Doug Tribou for an update.

Sayers is serving an 11-month prison sentence for envionmental violations at the Electro-Plating Services site. The city of Madison Heights wants a judge to allow it to tear it down. It also wants an order saying he's financially responsible for the cost of demolition. 

Both an Environmental Protection Agency official and the city building inspector testified last week that Sayers' building is the worst site they had ever seen. They found thousands of containers filled with toxic chemicals, some of which were open to the air. There were other containers next to each other that could set fire if combined, and the building was filled with trash. 

Electro-Plating Services has a history of environmental violations dating back to 1990. Liesl Clark is the director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. She testified before a state House committee that this shows the state has not consistently enforced the law.

Clark said she'll order a review of the department to make sure that doesn't happen again. 

"Because if we don't enforce our laws today, we're essentially putting in place the conditions for a future moment when a reckless facility that was let off the hook comes back to bite us, with green ooze on a expressway or God forbid, something worse," she said.

Clark said the review will be conducted by an outside agency, sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and made public. 

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.
Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Radio staff as the host of Morning Edition in June 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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