Residents from more than 100 households in Livonia, Michigan are suing Ford Motor Company over pollutants from the Livonia Transmission Plant that they say has risked their health and demolished property values, reports Fox 2 Detroit. Ford first started investigating the release of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, from the plant in early-2016; it’s thought to have come from the breakdown of a chemical degreaser used at the plant up until the 1980s.
“Most of the homes do not have basements, they have crawl spaces, so the vapor then gathers into the crawl spaces and seeps into the homes” says Livonia resident Monica O’Connor. The cancer-causing compound has not only put health at risk, but tanked property values in the area, residents say. “Most of us have added on to our homes. We spent a lot of time and money on making it a nice home for our family and now to have all of that go to waste, it’s very frustrating,” O’Connor says.
Another resident, Bruce Tenniswood, says he thinks his home has lost “all of” its value. “I don’t feel this house is salable,” he says.
When residents tried to take action before, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) sued Ford over the leaked vinyl chloride on their behalf, settling quickly. Many residents have no faith that the agency can adequately insure Ford cleans the chemicals in their groundwater.
“I’m sorry but I’m skeptical,” Tenniswood says. “I have a problem with an agency that’s done nothing for two years” since the chemicals were first discovered “and then at the last minute steps in and says ‘we’re going to fix it now.'”
Ford Motor Company issued a statement Wednesday after news of the lawsuit broke, saying:
We remain fully committed to protecting the environment. All community samples collected to date show no health risk to residents or drinking water. When we discovered the issue, we promptly alerted the MDEQ and the plant’s neighbors. Since then, we have actively worked with the MDEQ and investigated the potential for groundwater contamination, culminating in our settlement with the State of Michigan in July that includes plans for addressing the neighborhood and continued public outreach. Throughout this process, we have worked quickly and cooperatively with the state and community to keep everyone fully informed of our progress.