McLouth site to go on Superfund waiting list for balance of cleanup

Photo by Sue Suchyta The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a settlement agreement with Crown Enterprises and its subsidiary MSC for the 183 acres of the former McLouth Steel Facility held by the Wayne County Land Bank, and with the Michigan Department Environmental Quality, and Crown subsidiary, the Riverview-Trenton Railroad Co., for the 76 acres in the northern part of the former McLouth complex.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a settlement agreement with Crown Enterprises and its subsidiary MSC for the 183 acres of the former McLouth Steel Facility held by the Wayne County Land Bank, and with the Michigan Department Environmental Quality, and Crown subsidiary, the Riverview-Trenton Railroad Co., for the 76 acres in the northern part of the former McLouth complex.

 

EPA proposes former McLouth site settlement agreement, ‘covenant not to sue’

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a settlement agreement for the former McLouth Steel site to protect the new developers from lawsuits and provide federal Superfund money for the cleanup.

The EPA’s proposed Administrative Settlement Agreement and Covenant Not To Sue will allow the parties not responsible for the contamination to take title to the property, and clarifies cleanup and demolition responsibilities.

The former McLouth Steel facility, which operated in Trenton and Riverview from about 1950 to 1995, consisted of 273 acres. In 1995, McLouth filed for bankruptcy, and in 1996, the entire facility was sold to Hamlin Holdings, who transferred the title to DSC Ltd., which tried unsuccessfully to restart steel operations.

Businessman Manuel “Matty” Maroun bought 76 acres of the northern part of the site in 2000 from DSC, and transferred the title from Crown to its subsidiary, the Riverview-Trenton Railroad Co.

When Wayne County acquired 183 of the 197 acres in the southern part of the site, in Trenton, in 2017, through tax foreclosure, it entered into a purchase agreement with Crown. The settlement with the EPA will allow the non-liable parties – Crown, and its subsidiary MSC, a demolition and remediation division — to take title to the 183 acres in the southern part of the property with protections, and with its remediation responsibilities defined.

For the northern part of the property, the EPA will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. MDEQ will commit to ensuring that Crown subsidiary RTRR cleans up the northern 76 acres of the site in accordance with Superfund guidelines.

Under the settlement, Crown subsidiary MSC will initially fence and secure the 183 acres in the southern part of the site to keep out trespassers and to isolate the contaminants.

Before any demolition is begun, MSC will prepare a Traffic Management Plan in conjunction with the EPA, MDEQ and the cities of Riverview and Trenton.

MSC will remove contaminated water and sludge from 23 identified below-ground structures, will clean or remove the structures, and will fill the remaining containers with clean material, to prevent the seepage of contaminants into the ground and surface water.

MSC will explore five places where poly-chlorinated biphenyl, a compound once used extensively as a coolant fluid, may have been stored. The toxicity of PCBs, which are carcinogens, prompted the United States in 1978 to ban its production.

If MSC finds PCBs to be above action levels, it will instigate interim measures to prevent direct contact, to allow the EPA and MSC to determine the long-term remediation needed.

MSC also will assess storm water runoff to prevent sheet flow runoff of contaminated water into the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River.

During demolition, MSC will demolish, to grade, 45 buildings and structures, the largest of which is the 1.5-million-square-foot building along Jefferson Avenue in Trenton.

During the demolition process, MSC will remove and dispose of all asbestos and PCB waste materials encountered, and will remove all containerized solid or hazardous wastes it discovers, in keeping with state and federal regulations. It also will be charged with preventing any contaminated airborne particulate contaminates from migrating from the site.

The EPA proposes that all 197 acres in the southern section of the former McLouth site, which includes the 183 acres acquired by the Wayne County Land Bank, to which Crown seeks title, will be listed on the Superfund National Priorities List, which makes it eligible for federal funding to address the environmental remediation not covered by the settlement agreement.

In the northern 76 acre section, MDEQ and RTRR will enter into a Corrective Action Consent Order, in which RTRR will address the five known waste management units located on the site, will investigate groundwater contamination, control dust from the site, and will manage storm water runoff so contaminants no longer wash into the Trenton Channel.

MDEQ will use the data collected by RTRR during the initial remediation phase to determine the successive remediation action needed on the northern part of the site.

At an Aug. 13 Riverview City Council study session, Riverview City Manager Doug Drysdale reiterated the worries of city officials.

“Obviously a big concern that we’ve had here is truck traffic, truck routes, the noise, the litter and all the environmental things,” he said.

Drysdale said he is concerned about how the Riverview residents who live on Jefferson Avenue and Riverview Street will be impacted by the demolition and what precautions will be taken.

Riverview Mayor Andrew Swift voiced concern that the project puts Sibley Road at risk.

“The city of Riverview remains vigilant in holding Crown Enterprises to the fact that truck traffic from the demolition and operations of their facility in Trenton does not use Sibley Road in Riverview as access to I-75,” Swift said.

Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack said that while she is thankful that the property is moving toward ownership, she has concerns about traffic and airborne particulates during teardown.

“The EPA will be monitoring this issue through the demolition process,” she said. “There will be trucks, as they will have to haul the debris to the proper landfill for disposal, as per EPA regulations.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) said cleaning up the former McLouth Steel site has been a priority for Trenton and Downriver for years.

“This agreement is a positive first step in the right direction,” she said. “The EPA, MDEQ, Crown Enterprises and the community must work together to ensure that the cleanup actually happens and that the next version of the McLouth site serves all the people of Trenton and Downriver.”

The EPA will hold a public meeting to address the issues of the settlement at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 at St. Paul Lutheran Church reception hall, 2550 Edsel St., Trenton.

For details about the proposed settlement, and how questions and comments may be submitted, go to s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2018-17584.pdf or go to epa.gov/superfund/mclouth-steel.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)