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Flat Rock gets the all-clear weeks after gas leak from Ford

A city vehicle during the emergency response.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
A city vehicle during the emergency response.

Updated Sept. 23, 2021 at 3:50 p.m.

Authorities told hundreds of people in a Detroit suburb to return home, ending a three-week voluntary evacuation after gasoline from a Ford Motor factory got into the sewer system. The gas leak is no longer a risk to indoor air of Flat Rock homes and businesses in Zone 1.

Zone 1 has about 500 homes. Zone 2, with 635 homes, got the green light Monday. The only exception is a handful of homes.

Flat Rock's drinking water system wasn't affected. Ford Motor has been paying to put residents in hotels. The offer will continue for residents who still are awaiting written results from tests.

Original post, Sept. 20, 2021:

Health officials are giving some Flat Rock residents the OK to return home after being urged to evacuate after a recent gasoline leak.

The Wayne County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced Monday that Flat Rock’s Zone 2 is clear of any impact from the Ford plant gas leak. That means homes in the area do not have elevated levels of the carcinogen benzene.

There are 635 homes in Zone 2, which is bounded by Gibraltar Road to the north, Sheeks Road to the west, East Huron River Drive to the south, and Cahill Road.

“I know evacuation has been a hardship for many Flat Rock residents, but it was critical that health experts took the time to collect and analyze sufficient data so that residents can have peace of mind returning to and remaining in their homes,” said Wayne County Chief Operating Officer Genelle Allen.

The Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant was the source of 1,400 gallons of gasoline that leaked into the city’s sewer system. Production resumed at the plant this week.

More than a thousand people evacuated after the gas odor was detected.

Meanwhile, local, state and federal agencies continue to evaluate monitoring data in the larger Zone One. The Zone 1 area is bounded by I-75 to the east, Gibraltar Road to the north, Cahill Road to the west, and Woodruff Road to the south.

“Our team will continue to work hard along with our partners from state, local and federal agencies as we assess screening and monitoring data from Zone 1 swiftly and thoroughly,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan chief medical executive and MDHHS chief deputy director for health. "Out of an abundance of caution, our recommendation to Zone 1 residents is that they remain evacuated until we know from the data that they can return home.”

The Wayne County Health Department and MDHHS are working to complete the Zone 1 process as quickly as possible in the coming weeks.

The Ford Motor Company continues to provide families in the affected areas of Zone 1 and 2 with hotel accommodations in local hotels.

While Zone 2 has been cleared for residents to return home, Ford will continue to provide hotel accommodations for those residents in Zone 2 who requested testing at their home and are still awaiting their written results.

If residents need accommodations, they are encouraged to call 734-782-2455 ext. 1105.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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