DEQ: Soil around I-94 pileup site needs toxin testing

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KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — The site of January’s pileup on I-94 then and now is like night and day. However, some debris remains. And a green tarp.

It’s anybody’s guess what’s underneath.

FOX 17 called the Michigan Department of Transportation and learned the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing clean-up of the crash scene.

But what’s under the tarp? “There’s a salt pile,” said Mark Ducharme, an incident manager with DEQ. “There’s still some hazardous material that remained behind that need to be cleaned up.”

Ducharme said one of the semis involved in the pileup was hauling the salt. In order to tow that semi away, the salt was off-loaded into the median. It’s been sitting here ever since.

There’s a potentially bigger problem still looming: “There was a release of approximately 800 gallons of formic acid to the environment,” Ducharme said.

Schneider Trucking out of Wisconsin was hauling the acid, Ducharme said. After the pileup, state police ordered an evacuation within a three mile radius. To deal with the acid, hazmat crews poured soda ash to neutralize it, reducing the change of harming the environment.

DEQ said Schneider Trucking is responsible for cleaning up any remaining hazardous material. That includes any potentially contaminated soil.

“After the soils removed, then efforts will then be done to collect soil samples and document that the soil samples have been removed,” Ducharme explained.

FOX 17 spoke to a spokesperson for Schneider Trucking and was told that
the salt tested clean and that it’s not contaminated by the acid spill.

However, the environmental test for formic acid on the soil hasn’t been done. It’s still pending.

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