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Posted on Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Judge permits Environmental Protection Agency to test property where Ypsilanti Township man buried junkyard

By Tom Perkins

A judge has granted the Environmental Protection Agency permission to further test the soil on a property where an Ypsilanti Township man illegally buried a junkyard.

EPA officials will conduct tests at the site to determine contamination levels and whether a federal clean up is required. A hearing at which a judge could grant permission for the EPA to move forward with remediation is scheduled for Dec. 8.

In March, Ypsilanti Township building inspectors discovered George Madison buried a variety of junk on a small portion of his 5-acre lot on Daytona Avenue. Among other debris were gas cans, tires, metal pieces, a bowling ball, car parts, various chemical containers and other items.

Township and federal officials originally feared the contamination could reach nearby Ford Lake, though an EPA official has since said that is unlikely.

Preliminary tests conducted by township officials found petroleum and high acid levels in groundwater on the site, and the EPA was called in to take over the site's management.

Over the summer, attorneys for the EPA asked Madison to sign a consent for access agreement allowing them enter and test the site for contamination. Madison has refused to sign it.


Officials are concerned a junkyard buried under this Daytona Avenue lot may be contaminated.

Tom Perkins | For

Township Attorney Dennis McLain asked Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Connors to allow the EPA to enter the site for testing, though the court date wasn’t until Nov. 3. Connors said the EPA should report its findings to the court before proceeding with a clean up.

The EPA was supposed to begin prepping the site for testing on Nov. 28 and finish by Dec. 5, McLain said, but they have yet to start.

A representative from the EPA's Grosse Ille office previously said the agency began inspecting the site in June, using ground-penetrating radar. Of particular interest are any kind of containers that could be filled with oil or other pollutants, and their inspection revealed there are canisters in the ground. The next round of testing will reveal if there were chemicals leaking out of those.

“At least things are progressing and hopefully we’ll have the EPA’s inspection report and recommendations for remediation shortly,” McLain said.

Township officials discovered Madison’s lot in April 2010. A one-acre paved portion was filled with cars, trucks, dump trucks, car parts, boats, an engine hoist, garbage cans, debris and canisters full of chemicals.

The site was declared a public nuisance in August 2010, and Connors ordered Madison to clear the property and return it to its natural state.

But when inspectors went to the site in March, they discovered fresh lumps of soil and suspected some junk was buried. Their suspicions were confirmed when they dug test holes and found the debris.


Kai Petainen

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:25 a.m.

"found petroleum" ..... "and the EPA was called in to take over the site's management." don't get me started. EPA wants to get involved in a man's backyard... but if it's on our river? the EPA should be consistent. if they're going to investigate localized backyard dumps, then they should also investigate the pollution spill that was in our river. if they don't investigate the local spill, then don't bother with the man's backyard.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

the spot where it entered the river is here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and the river level is low... that is... it was not a rain event that caused it. i can even find a daily graph that shows how it was a sunny day when this spill happened. i agree that rain events can screw up the river -- but the original spill was not caused by a rain event. if anyone tells you that it was... that's disturbing.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

bhall.... i agree... but, when the point at which the oil spill enters the river is known... and it is not the result of a rain event, then the EPA should investigate. i'm talking about a spill that came from a point into the river and occurred when there wasn't a rain event.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:51 a.m.

I wouldn't be too hard on the EPA. The EPA was notified of this illegal dump by the township and asked to investigate. Re. the Huron River. You could spend millions, but once something is in the river, and is not an ongoing event, it is impossible to trace back the cause. You do realize that every time it rains, the Huron River receives tons of contaminants. Rain washes all those oil and petroleum drippings off parking lots into stormdrains, which then go to the river. It also washes off all those pesticides and chemicals we put on our lawns into the river. And if anybody dumps any oil down the stormdrain, yes, it goes to the river. A sheen in the river is likely petroleum based, right? It's got to be something not water soluble. Finding out the responsible party? Yeah, not going to happen. Somebody changed their oil and dumped the old stuff.

Ron Granger

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Why aren't this man's assets being seized to pay for all this investigation and clean-up?


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 6:20 a.m.

Because there isn't yet enough that a) he dumped/buried the toxic waste and b) that it is going to spread off his property. That's what this EPA testing is for.

Tom Todd

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

this should have been handled Sooner what a mess. Also the Attorney General John Ashcroft quit flying Commercially in July before 9/11.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

fascinating, how they pick and choose who to investigate.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

This should have been done a long time ago. I can't believe that the county has sat on this time bomb for so long. The pollution control should have access to any property that has been found to have junk on it whether or not it is legal, and especially if it was found to be underground. This reminds me of 911, when Bush waited a month before he went into Afghanistan. I am trying to figure out which side of this story is worse, the perpetrator or the governing officials, who's job it is to take care of these messes. Again: Stupid is what stupid does!


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Made my morning.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

So THAT'S why my water tested positive for bowling balls.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

Don't forget the pins too.....a little on the rusty side.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

I think that Mr. Madison should have to build a home there, live there, and put in a well and drink the water from his land, not be allowed to use YCUA water.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

20 months since it was discovered, allowing lots of time for the drums to leak...