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‘There should be no hazard there': Clean up continues after fire destroys waste facility

Plainfield Twp FD says one of their biggest concerns was environmental impact.
GFL debris pic 6.jpg
Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 09:13:53-04

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Over 50 firefighters and 10 fire departments worked together to put out the fire at Green For Life Environmental off of Mill Creek Avenue in Comstock Park.

The Plainfield Township Fire Chief Steven McKellar said the first fire broke out on Sunday.

“Worked on that for a couple of hours. Got it out. Visited the site several times during the day. No sign of any fire rekindling and stuff,” Chief McKellar said during an interview with FOX 17. “Then we got a call about 8:30/9 o’clock last night that the building was on fire again.”

GFL is an environmental services company that offers waste management services, which sometimes includes liquid and hazardous waste.

However, Chief McKellar said there’s no threat to public health.

“It was all basically waste petroleum, like from oil-change places, mechanic places,” Chief McKellar said. “They come and pop off their tanks, put it on their site ’til somebody comes and transports it from their site to their main facilities.”

He said one of their main concerns was about ground contamination. They wanted to make sure no runoff expanded.

“The biggest thing you know, was environmental concern,” Chief McKellar said. “Because right along the expressway, in the drainage, along the expressway is a slope towards a creek down there that eventually would go into the Grand River.” 

Crews got to work immediately, he said, making sure that wouldn’t happen. So, they first built a dike.

“Basically, [we] had a big pond of oil and water mixture,” Chief McKellar said. “They came in. Their goal is to suck that pond [or] dike area down so we can continue to flow water to put out the fire. And then they have to take care of all the contaminated ground and make sure that’s removed and replaced with good soil.”

Contractors were at the location all day Monday cleaning up what was left.

FOX 17 reached out to GFL for an interview or comment, and have yet to hear back.

FOX 17 also reached out to MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and they said via voicemail:

“We are mostly concerned with the mixture of oil and firefighting water that’s apparently now contained to a ditch. Our local first responders did a really good job of setting up burns to keep it from leaving the roadsides ditch there on 131 southbound. So we have a ditch that's fairly wide with a foot or two of oil mixed with firefighting water that's currently contained and will be properly removed.”

The chief added that the fire is under investigation. However he emphasized that there’s no public health concern stemming from the fire or its aftermath.

“There should be no hazard there,” he said. “The fire is down. They might see a little smoke because it’s still kind of, it’s still hot. But that area is still going to be busy, so try to avoid that area as much as possible.”