US & Canada

Hazardous green chemical oozes on to Detroit highway

Officials closed a stretch of the highway after the liquid was seen oozing through paving Image copyright MDOT Handout
Image caption Officials closed a stretch of the highway after the liquid was seen oozing through paving

Emergency services in the US state of Michigan are conducting a clean up operation after a dangerous greenish-yellow chemical oozed on to a highway.

Police said the chemical was hexavalent chromium, which can cause cancer.

Environmental officials said the clean-up operation would last for days.

The chemical appeared to come from a business in the Detroit suburbs that was shut down in 2016 for illegally storing hazardous materials, state environmental officials said.

A spokesperson for Michigan's Department of Environment said the substance did not pose an imminent risk to public health, drinking water or air quality.

Police said the chemical ran from the basement of the building onto the ground and then found its way through a drain which then empties on to the I 696 highway.

The Environmental Protection Agency said once the chemical came up through the drain, it froze. The agency said workers would scoop frozen liquid from the highway and place it in a safe container.

The leaked hexavalent chromium in Michigan came from a commercial building which housed Electro-Plating Services, officials said. The business was shut down when inspectors discovered hundreds of containers filled with hazardous waste.

The company's owner, Gary Sayers, is serving a year in federal prison for operating an unlicensed hazardous storage waste facility.

Hexavalent chromium was referenced in the film Erin Brockovich, which told the story of an activist who sued a California energy company after the chemical leaked into a town's water supply.

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