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Collapse of Contaminated Site Could Be Bad News

As if Detroit needed more bad news
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2019 3:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Living downriver from the Detroit Dock? You might want to buy drinking water for a while. That's because part of the historic site—long tainted with uranium and other scary chemicals—fell into the Detroit River on Nov. 26, the Detroit Free Press reports. A load of big aggregate piles caused the partial collapse, which went unnoticed by many US agencies over Thanksgiving weekend until the Windsor Star called them. What's being done is unclear, but while federal officials point fingers and Michigan authorities insist there is "no evidence" of a "radiological risk," workers were spotted in Windsor moving aggregate around with backhoes near the caved-in area of shoreline.

Another concern is that chemicals in Detroit River sediment—possibly including PCBs, mercury, and PAHs—have been kicked up by the collapse. "Moving that stuff around will spread contamination and cause greater destruction to what's in the water," says a Windsor environmental activist who hopes the site will be remediated. Canadian lawmaker Brian Masse tells Newsweek a study is required because "forty million people use the Great Lakes for drinking water, and the ecosystem is already fragile." Formerly a Revere Copper and Brass location, the site was used to help build the atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project and produce uranium rods in the 1950s. It was demolished in 1989 and recently leased by Detroit Bulk Storage. (Read more pollution stories.)

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