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Chair Hernandez: State environmental authorities continue to botch communication with ‘green ooze’ response

Hernandez: ‘DEGLE must get its act together’

Rep. Shane Hernandez of Port Huron today said state environmental officials are not properly communicating with Sanilac County emergency response officials and residents about their work near property connected by ownership with the ‘green ooze’ situation in metro Detroit.

Hernandez said the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy recently took well water samples near the Sanilac County property owned by Gary Sayers, who also owns the Electro-Plating Services site responsible for the contamination on I-696 in Madison Heights. While there reportedly was some communication with health officials, Hernandez said Sanilac County emergency response coordinators actively involved with the process weren’t notified, and nearby residents were not informed of the testing.

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Hernandez – chair of the House Appropriations Committee – just last week held a special hearing discussing the state’s need to better inform local communities about possible environmental threats.

“I’m extremely disappointed that just a few days after DEGLE officials said they would work on improving communication, the agency was doing work near the Sanilac County site without telling the proper authorities what they were doing or why they were doing it,” Hernandez said. “Enough is enough. These communication problems have got to stop. It frustrates and worries residents who aren’t getting the answers they need about a potential health threat.”

Hernandez regularly seeks out updates on the “green ooze” situation, but said DEGLE must do a better job of initiating communication with state legislators and local communities.

The contamination response issue was highlighted in late December with the discovery of a toxic green liquid oozing onto the shoulder of I-696 near Madison Heights. The source of the contaminant – including hexavalent chromium, PFAS and other toxins — was determined as the former Electro-Plating Services site, which has a history of compliance violations dating back to the 1990s.

This month, state officials also responded to concerns on property affiliated with the same owner in Sanilac County’s Marion Township and Detroit. Many key Sanilac County officials found out about state response from media inquiries and reports.

“Plain and simple, DEGLE must get its act together,” Hernandez said. “They’ve got to do a better job letting people know what’s going on in their communities.”

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