The liquid was Hexavalent chromium, usually produced during industrial processes like plating and is a known cancer-causing chemical. The highway has been blocked off until it is all cleaned.
A green liquid was discovered oozing onto Interstate 696 in the Detroit suburb of Madison Heights on Friday, according to CNN. Authorities blocked off parts of the highway and called in federal agencies to investigate. By Saturday, it was declared that the mysterious liquid was hexavalent chromium which was leaking from a local business. The Michigan State Police also took to Twitter to confirm it. They wrote: "It was later advised a commercial building located on E 10 Mile Road, had been leaking the chemical Hexavalent Chromium. The chemical ran from the basement of the building, down into the ground and found its way through a drain which empties onto eastbound I-696."
Hopefully this will answer some questions we have been getting about I 696 in Madison Heights.— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) December 21, 2019
At about 2 30 PM on 12/20, we were asked by Madison Heights Fire Dispatch to block the right lane of east bound I-696 near Couzens while the fire department cleaned up a liquid spill. pic.twitter.com/WGFy5sYDkk
Hexavalent chromium is usually produced during industrial processes like plating and it is a well-known cancer-causing substance, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The chemical is also known to cause damage to the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin, and eyes. If the liquid that was oozing from a company wasn't discovered on time, it could've reached Lake St. Clair, said Candice Miller, Macomb County public works commissioner.
It was later advised a commercial building located on E 10 Mile Road, had been leaking the chemical Hexavelent Chromium. The chemical ran from the basement of the building, down into the ground and found its way thru a drain which empties onto east bound I-696.— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) December 21, 2019
"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that once the chemical came up through the drain, it froze into a yellow blob," police tweeted. "The plan to dispose of the chemical is to bring in a type of excavator, scoop up the frozen waste, and place it into a safe container." Officials told WDIV-TV it could take days to complete the cleanup process. "We have cleaned out the sewers and the cleanout drains between the facility and 696," said Jill Greenberg, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.\
Deliberate Chemical poisoning. WMD— Niles DeGrate (@NilesDegrate) December 22, 2019
"We're also in the process of cleaning up the basement of the facility." Tricia Edwards with the EPA also added that it was going to take some time for the cleanup because the liquid had oozed into the clay in the area. If you want to familiarize yourself with this chemical, then you could probably give Julia Robert's 2000 movie Erin Brokovich a shot. Hexavalent chromium is also known as chromium-6, and this was the chemical featured in the movie where Roberts played the role of an activist who helped sue a California utility over the chemical leaching into the water.
People were shocked and enraged by this. They were also quick to note the similarity between this and the movie. One user took to Twitter to write: "The same chemical that leaches into water and gets us sick. The same chemical as the one featured in the movie Erin Brockovich and she sued the state for this hazardous waste making people sick. Another reason to leave Michigan or at least not drink the water. Nice downplay guys." Another one added: "Isn't this the same stuff that Erin Brockovich fought PG&E (California) against in the movie? Caused MUCH cancer and other ailments to people living near the contamination!"