City officials appear happy with progress being made as the clean-up continues on the former Hoover Universal Die Casting site on South Monroe Street in Saline.
The property, a 10-acre parcel at 232 S. Monroe St., is owned today by Adient – which was spun off by its previous owners, Johnson Controls. Volatile organic compounds and metals contaminated the site, which was used for industrial purposes for nearly 100 years.
Hoover operated a metal fabrication, plating and polishing facility from the mid-1940s until 1985. Johnson Controls acquired Hoover in a merger and assumed responsibility for the property. Local developer Tom Foley purchased the property from a bank in 2006 with plans for a condominium community, but the project came to a halt when contaminants were released from the ground. After a long battle, a federal court ordered the property back to Johnson Controls for cleanup.
At Monday’s meeting, Mike Stoelton, Director of Environmental Affairs for Adient, appeared before city council to go over what’s been done to remediate the property and provide information about future plans.
Stoelton went over some of the old news. More than 35 million pounds of debris, including concrete and asphalt, have been removed. Another 22,000 gallons of liquid waste was removed.
The site is now in remediation. Blue tarps placed around the property are there to keep weeds down in places where wells will be drilled.
Adient also cleaned up arsenic on the nearby property slated for the Curtiss Park Bluffs development. More than 1,365 cubic yards of contaminated soils were excavated and 1,706 tons of materials were disposed of.
“It wasn’t really a complicated process. It took three times as long to negotiate access to the site than it did to remediate the site,” Stoelton told council.
Stoelton said neighbors may notice the next phase of the cleanup. Soil vapor extraction will be used to remove volatile organic compounds from the ground. Stoelton said a vacuum-like machine will be required for the process.
“It could be noisy at night. If neighbors hear it and have complaints, have (City Manager Todd Campbell) get a hold of me and we can schedule it at a time that will make neighbors happy,” Stoelton said. He added that the machine has been used before in a residential neighborhood without much issue.
Neighbors will probably notice activity on the site this week. DTE will install power and the site will be inspected by city staff.
In the summer of 2019 Adient will begin working to remove PCBs found in the sediments of the Saline River.
Stoelton said Adient is re-evaluating remediation work done previous to his oversite.
“We want to sure that everything was properly done. We won’t want this issue to come up again. We make to make sure it’s done right,” Stoelton said.
Mayor Brian Marl, on behalf of council, thanked Stoelton for his work.
“It’s a very important quality of life issue, especially for people who live along Monroe Street,” Marl said. “It’s taken a long time to get where we are at today. Under your leadership, tremendous progress has been made in the last few years. The city will continue to be a supporter and advocate for your work.”
Councillors Dean Girbach and Linda TerHaar echoed Marl’s sentiment.
Answering a question from Councillor Janet Dillon, Stoelton said remediation would take about two years.
Dillon also asked Stoelton how Adient envisions the property when remediation is complete.
“Is it going to be a grassy meadow? A sandy lot?” she asked.
Stoelton didn’t reveal much.
“The property belongs to Adient right now,” he said.
Dillon pressed on.
“What we don’t want to see is weeds eight feet tall,” she said.
“We don’t have an official end game for the site yet. We know that it will not be residential,” Stoelton said.
City Councillor Christen Mitchell asked if the city could be proactive in letting neighbors know about the upcoming work. Marl suggested news will be in the city’s FYI newsletter mailed in water bills.
Resident Mary Hess, speaking during public comment, said kids growing up in Saline were always warned about the Hoover plant. You could do a lot of things, Hess said.
“But you never were to get near the blue water behind Hoover Universal. That was a given,” Hess said. “I have no idea how it was even going to be turned into residential in the first place.”
Marl encouraged all residents who have concerns about the project to contact the City Manager.