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Witness testimony over in trial against owner of "green ooze" site

pit filled with green liquid

Update: Thursday, February 6, 2020

The attorney for Gary Sayers called a single witness on Thursday, a structural engineer who testified that the buildings on the Electro-Plating Services property are structurally sound.

6th Circuit Court Judge Hala Jarbou told attorneys she wants closing arguments to be based on facts presented at trial. She ordered both sides to get a transcript of the proceedings, write their final pleadings, and make closing arguments on April 1.

She did not indicate how soon after that she will issue a verdict on the city's petition to demolish the buildings.

Original post: 8:20 a.m., Thursday, February 6, 2020

The trial in the lawsuit filed by the city of Madison Heights against Electro-Plating Services owner Gary Sayers is coming to a close. His company is the source of the neon green slime that spilled onto I-696 in December.

Multiple witnesses testified to building code violations, fire code violations, and chemical storage violations at the property. The city brought its last witness to the stand on Wednesday: Fire Chief Greg Lelito.

Fire Chief Lelito was the one who first noticed debris outside Electro-Plating Services in 2016. He says Sayers allowed him inside that day, where he saw thousands of unlabeled and open containers of suspect liquids. When he expressed concern, Lelito says Sayers plunged his hands into one, to show it was quote, "safe."

The EPA removed thousands of containers of hazardous materials from the site. At one point, Homeland Security was notified because the buildings were not secure and there was cyanide in some of the containers.

Madison Heights wants to demolish the buildings and charge the cost to Sayers. It's not clear if Sayers has any money. City records show he hasn't paid his property taxes since 2013. 

Sayers' attorney is expected to bring witnesses on Thursday to testify the buildings can be repaired and shouldn't be demolished.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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