You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Washtenaw Avenue auto shop accused of dumping suspected gasoline into sewer

By Tom Perkins


Employees at Auto One on Washtenaw Avenue are suspected of dumping gasoline into the sewer system.

Tom Perkins | For

Officials say an Ypsilanti Township business owner could face criminal charges after his employees were caught dumping suspected gasoline into a sewer on business's property.

Police and township officials also found Auto 1 Complete Car Care violating a range of township codes and will ask a judge to issue a restraining order ordering all illegal activity halted and the property brought up to code.

Mike Radzik, director of the township’s office of community standards, said a patron leaving a neighboring restaurant smelled an overwhelming gasoline odor while in the parking lot.

The patron investigated to determine the source and witnessed several employees dumping what is suspected to be gasoline into a sewer at 2555 Washtenaw Ave. The patron called 911 and a Washtenaw County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched, Radzik said.

Upon arrival, the deputy witnessed an employee dumping the suspected gasoline into the sewer, Radzik said.

The deputy then contacted township and the Washtenaw County Water Resources Office, which sent out an agent to investigate.

Radzik said it was determined that the water flows through the storm basin to nearby Northlawn Street where it is released into the road. From there, the topography leads it to a county drain.

The agency took samples of the water to identify the chemicals that were dumped into the sewer. Washtenaw County Sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said no charges will be sent to the prosecutor’s office stemming from the April 22 incident until police have the test results.

"Obviously there are environmental laws to protect us and laws about gasoline or other chemicals being dumped into storm sewer that leads to creek or lakes," Township Attorney Doug Winters said. "It contaminates water; it affects fish and other wildlife; and it's such an irresponsible and outrageous act. That’s why the environmental laws should be enforced, and that's why (Ypsilanti-area landlord) David Kircher got five years for dumping waste into the Huron River."

Township ordinance officials said the business also was breaking zoning laws by selling used cars on the property and making major auto repairs. The area is zoned B3 commercial, which only allows for minor automotive repairs like oil changes or brake repairs.

Radzik said officials found the property littered with auto parts and debris; the roof is in need of repair; some kind of chemical appears to be leaking from the building and into the storm sewer; there are several electrical and plumbing hazards; windows and doors are broken; and mold is growing on the ceiling.

“The building is in serious disrepair,” Radzik said.

On April 27, workers were making improvements to the building. Used cars were still being sold in the parking lot. The business owner, Jeff Murrillo, declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation. The township also has named the property’s owner in its motion with the court.

“Usually you suspect someone is dumping something, but you never can determine who,” Winters said. “Here you actually have two people - the citizen and sheriff's department deputy - who were alert and caught them dumping gasoline twice.”

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at



Thu, May 2, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

really... so because their a business this guy or girl feels the need to report it? do you report every time you see a car going down the road that is burning or leaking oil? come on... everyone knows there are a bunch of cars in ypsi that leak fluids...and to the reporter really this is all you could find to report? I'm guessing you cant report on the bigger problems in the city like the hookers and drugs..right on...i get it you have to make the gov. look like their really doing something... how about you try reporting on the issues that the gov. is looking the other way on..


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Im gonna stop at this place and ask them to give me all the unwanted gas they have! Gee, at $3.86/gal ill take it all! I remember when Obama first got elected gas was only $1.80's...boy how things have changed! Here I believed all those news outlets telling me it was so high then because Bush is a big oil man. Hmmm, I guess they were wrong! Anyway, if they want to get rid of gasoline, ill take it! Even the "bad" gas! The bad gas may be mixed with antifreeze but it works great to burn the big brush/garbage piles i accumulate a few times a year.


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.


Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 7 p.m.

What was wrong with my comment asking why there had been no inspections before a citizen reported problems?

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

not bland enough.

Tom Joad

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

We are already living in an area where the groundwater has been irreparably damaged by dumping of 1,4-dioxane by former Gelman Sciences. A lot of storm drains drain directly into the Huron River...there are many placards alerting people to this fact on our city storm drains downtown. Gasoline or any kind of hydrocarbon waste dumped into city sewers or storm drains is particularly insidious as even a small amount contaminates millions of gallons of water. The fines and penalties for willful dumping of chemicals should be ruinously high to curb this abuse, but the city and county should do more to make disposal of hazardous waste easier and less costly for business and home users to encourage responsible and managed disposal of hazardous wastes. The clean-up costs of illegal dumping runs into the millions of dollars. I have witnessed office workers dump fluorescent lights in dumpsters even though this is prohibited because they contain highly toxic mercury. We have been fouling our own nest.

Paprika Z

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

Yeah, but increasing the fines and penalties implies more regulation, which is a bad, bad thing in Washington (and across the country) right now. Unfortunately.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 4:43 a.m.

ah gelman... you fail to state that they were following proper procedures at that time. no one could foresee that this would be a problem.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

What does it take to close a place down? Surely this dump should be closed.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

Hooray for the citizen that took it upon themself to do some investigating and to call the police!

Linda Peck

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Thank you responsible citizen for making that 911 call! We should all be so attentive and protective of our environment.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

The fact is that our cars driving down washtenaw probably collectively leak way more various petroleum based fluids (motor oil, gas, trans fluid, Power steering) onto the road than this guy could dump. Have you ever noticed the runoff on a slightly rainy day? Often a film of oil Not excusing his behavior but just pointing this out that the ecosystem is more than capable of handling this small time polluter

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

"The fact is".. I'm not sure we agree on what the word "fact" actually means. Please feel free to substantiate your assertion with actual data that shows gasoline and other pollution dumped into stream connected drain sewers is harmless.

Big Dog

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

Did anyone bother to call the MIDEQ? That gasoline is going somewhere in the storm drain. Discharge to Huron River or storm water processing?

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 1:29 a.m.

wich used to have trout many other shops (homes)polute like this +are never caught.good bye fish.

Basic Bob

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

it probably drains to paint creek.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

I hope the penalties on this result in jail time and not just some "we won't do it anymore" agreement. It is expensive to run a business and properly dispose of used gasoline, etc. But dumping it into a sewer that potentially contaminates a local stream is unacceptable. Everyone "knows" you can't do that.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

I had my oil changed once there. They wanted to do other repairs and I told them to just do the oil change which they did, and I got out of there. That was four years ago and I have not been back there since, nor plan to do so.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

And now it's back. So apologies for the double thanks.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

I posted a comment thanking the person who took the time and trouble to alert the authorities about this situation, and it was deleted for violeting the commenting guidelines. I don't get it. Since when is it inappropriate to thank a citizen who did not have to get involved for getting involved and doing the right thing?

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

cuz your on the blandest thing on the web.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

Oh, be careful PattyinYpsi, you're questioning the moderators. And they don't like that.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

The moderation frequently stinks.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Amazed that there have been no comments about the person who got the ball rolling on this. Whoever s/he was, s/he could easily have just kept on going without doing anything. I suspect that's what most people would have done. Instead, s/he took the time and trouble to do something about a problem, and for that, we owe him/her our thanks.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

Back when BP had that major oil spill in the Gulf, the EPA said the sun will dry up most the oil and now they claim its safe to swim and eat fish from the Gulf. But watch the EPA make a major issue out of this and yeah, file criminal charges. No criminal charges were laid in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which was far-far worst ?


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Err...yeah, actually there we charges filed including charges against BP for the people killed. BP has been on the hook for billions. I'm sure there is a list of civil suits working there way through the courts as well.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

One was a terrible accident where lives were lost. The other was intentional, and repeated. Do you not see the distinction?

Vince Caruso

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

I hope the WRC and other relevant offices work to get this quickly cleaned up and charged to the owner, and not just left to sink into the ground or run into the Huron River for others to clean up or live with later. Glad the individual called 911 when they saw environmental laws being broken and officials were quickly on the scene.

Kai Petainen

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

"Officials say an Ypsilanti Township business owner could face criminal charges after his employees were caught dumping suspected gasoline into a sewer on business's property" it's nice to know that ypsi takes this stuff seriously. when the spill happened in ann arbor, I didn't hear local officials using this tone of language. ha, our local police/epa/dnr looked the other way and didn't even bother to investigate. the University of Michigan police viewed that petroleum/(acid?) spill as 'non-criminal', even though it ran for hours and covered the river.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Ypsi 'township' is where it was. And yes, they do seem to be good about taking blight and things like this seriously.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Upon arrival, the deputy witnessed an employee dumping the suspected gasoline into the sewer, Radzik said. Winters said. "Here you actually have two people - the citizen and sheriff's department deputy - who were alert and caught them dumping gasoline twice." Was it Gas or suspected gas? I suspect it was gas, but the township attorney is less careful than Mike Radzik, director of the township's office of community standards in saying for sure what it was.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Nicholas All I was saying is one person suspects it was gas another says its gas.I am sure it was gas. And they should be prosecuted. The fact is you can't discharge *anything* from your business into the storm sewer. Not even a bucket of water. Don't get carried away! What about the water from the downspouts that goes down the drive? Never heard of anyone being cited for that!

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

We all know what gas smells like. The fact is you can't discharge *anything* from your business into the storm sewer. Not even a bucket of water.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Jeff and his son really do seem like good people, and I have frequented that location through three changes in ownership. Unfortunately the property really has gone down hill, and minor auto repairs/oil changes sure don't seem like the primary nature of their business any longer. This is obviously the final nail in the coffin for me.

Cendra Lynn

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Good people don't knowingly do bad things.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Don't you mean obliviously lol

Paprika Z

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

Did Township Attorney Doug Winters really say, "Obliviously there are environmental laws to protect us..." Obliviously?

harry b

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.



Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

I think it would be good to have the judgement be to post signage on the property that says, "This establishment illegally dumped gasoline into the storm sewers and knowingly polluted the waters" Below that have a map that indicates the sewer track and the topography indicating where it would tend to run toward.

Ann English

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Northlawn is a residential road. I would have expected a resident on one of those roads south of this auto garage to notice the effects of dumping gasoline into the sewer first. Or perhaps some did, but didn't find the source, like a Luca's Coney Island patron did. A second effect from the ongoing misdeed.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

Make them wear it around their neck.

Tom Joad

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

Obviously the person quoted didn't say "Obliviously [sic] there are environmental laws to protect us"

Cindy Heflin

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

That's been corrected. Thanks.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Heh. I'll tell you this - the business owner was obviously not oblivious to what he was doing.

Cory C

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

"ask a judge to issue a restraining order ordering all illegal activity halted" Did I just read that right? So something that is illegal is somehow more illegal if a judge orders them to stop doing illegal things, which they're already ordered to stop doing by existing laws? Or was it mistaken and the judge instead ordered them to halt all legal activities as well (halt business) which would actually push them to fix things?


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

No Cory... It is just that it is illegal to take action on an illegal action until a judge can order the illegal action illegal. Hmmm say that 10 times real fast and you can be a politician. I am just wondering if the county sheriffs office believes that they have no authority to take action against law breakers until a judge orders the action is against the law and orders it to be halted. I think that the next time the county pulls anyone over for a traffic violation they must contact a judge to inform the violator to stop violating the law before the county sheriff can take action.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Is that next door to the cony island that occasionally makes the news?


Wed, May 1, 2013 : 1:25 a.m.

Wonder if it is part of their secret sauce and could not use it this go round?

Tom Perkins

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.


glenn shaw

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 10:50 a.m.

So the county officials are just realizing the mess and possble illegal acitvity just now, its been obvious for years as you drive by to the normal citizen,had my transmission fluid changed there in 2001 and drove away and my transmission burned up and they would not accept responsibility then.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

At least, they should have been reported to the Better Business Bureau. Also: Angie's List.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

Different business owners. It was Varsity Lube back then. That doesn't change the facts in this story though.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

When did you file a report with the county? You do realize they are not omniscient, even though many think they are.


Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 10:20 a.m.

If this does not stir residents no to use their services....