MCLOUTH STEEL CORP
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The former McLouth Steel facility originally consisted of approximately 273 acres and operated from about 1950 until 1995. In 1995, McLouth filed for bankruptcy. In 1996, the McLouth bankruptcy estate sold the entire McLouth facility to Hamlin Holdings, Inc., which transferred title to DSC, Ltd. DSC tried without success to restart steel operations.
In 2000, DSC sold the 76-acre northern portion of the facility to Manuel J. Maroun, who transferred title through Crown Enterprises, Inc. to Riverview-Trenton Railroad Co.
In 2017, Wayne County acquired 183 acres of the 197-acre southern portion through tax foreclosure. Wayne County then entered into a Purchase and Development Agreement with Crown. One of the purposes of this settlement is to provide the non-liable parties, Crown and its affiliate, MSC, with covenants not to sue so that MSC can take title to the property with clarity concerning its obligations under CERCLA, RCRA, and the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA).
In 2019, former McLouth Steel site is added to NPL.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
On December 17, 1999, MDEQ and DSC executed a Comprehensive Action and Remedial Consent Order (MDEQ Order). The MDEQ Order sought to address contamination from numerous waste management units and areas of concern within the property. DSC began to perform but did not successfully complete all work required according to the MDEQ Order.
On June 14, 2007, a fire broke out at the property in an open pond used to collect waste oil. Firefighters and the Downriver Emergency Response Team extinguished the fire. During a review of the scene, first responders identified hundreds of containers and drums of wastes. On October 16, 2007, EPA and MDEQ also discovered over 3,700 PCB-containing transformers and capacitors stored in the upper rafters of one of the steel production buildings.
Between May 12 and October 2, 2009, EPA conducted a fund-led removal action at the property that included the removal and disposal of 3,744 PCB capacitors, 39,783 gallons of PCB oil, and 1,877 containers of hazardous substances. In September 2012, EPA closed out the approximately $2 million in costs after it determined that DSC had no ability to pay those costs. EPA elected not to record a lien against the Property after it determined that there were already significant tax liens in place that had priority over EPA’s potential lien.
On March 18, 2011, MDEQ referred the southern section of the former McLouth facility, including the property, to Region 5’s Superfund Program. MDEQ noted, “The current owners and operators are unable to perform the necessary corrective actions, and this referral is necessary to ensure that actions can be taken to protect the public health, safety and welfare, and the environment from hazardous substances that remain on the property.” On May 11, 2011, Region 5 transferred responsibility for the southern portion of the former McLouth facility from its RCRA to its CERCLA program.
In August 2017, vandals broke into an office and laboratory area on the property. The vandals found a container of mercury and spilled the mercury. EPA conducted a removal action which was completed in a matter of days.
What Is the Current Site Status?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality have negotiated a proposed legal agreement called a “Settlement Agreement and Covenant Not to Sue” with Crown Enterprises, Inc. and MSC Land Co., LLC. The public has an opportunity to comment and the agencies will finalize the settlement after considering comments received. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, MSC will do some cleanup on and assessment activities within the southern portion of the site. In exchange, MSC and Crown, parties not responsible for the contamination on the property, will receive covenants not to sue. The covenants will enable MSC to take title to 183 acres of the former McLouth Steel facility from the Wayne County Land Bank. The settlement will foster redevelopment by allowing MSC and Crown to clarify their cleanup responsibilities while EPA investigates and later fully addresses existing contamination within the property. The steps to be taken by MSC mark the first but not the final steps in addressing conditions at the property.
To secure the covenants not to sue, the settlement will require MSC to do the following work in the southern portion of the site:
- Demolish about 45 structures.
- Remove asbestos-containing material, containerized wastes and materials containing PCBs from all structures prior to demolition.
- Install a fence around the property.
- Remove contaminated water and sludges from 23 subsurface structures (pits, basements and lagoons), clean or remove the structures and, if the structures remain, fill them with clean fill materials.
- Investigate five areas where PCBs may have been released.
- Assess and report on options for stormwater management to eliminate uncontrolled flow to the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River.
To address environmental issues not covered by the proposed settlement, EPA intends to propose the entire southern portion of the site consisting of approximately 197 acres for listing on the Superfund National Priorities List. Listing on the National Priorities List will make work within the southern portion eligible for federal funding.
MDEQ and Riverview-Trenton Railroad Co., or RTRR, have entered into an agreement, called a “Corrective Action Consent Order”, or CACO. Pursuant to the CACO, RTRR has committed to undertake certain corrective actions within the approximately 76 acres that comprise the northern portion of the former McLouth Steel facility.
RTRR has agreed to do the following:
- Perform the first phase of the corrective action (environmental investigation and response activities) that includes investigation of the five known waste management units, or WMUs, on the northern portion of the site.
- Clean up the WMUs if needed.
- Investigate groundwater contamination.
- Control dust.
- Evaluate stormwater management options to eliminate flow to the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River.
MDEQ will use the information collected during the first phase of the corrective action and other sources to help determine if additional phases of corrective action are necessary.
EPA will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, with MDEQ. In the MOU, MDEQ will commit to ensuring that RTRR performs a cleanup in the northern portion of the site in accordance with Superfund guidelines.