Gov. Whitmer reviewing possible criminal charges in "green ooze" pollution

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is looking to put a stop to pollution.

In a news release sent to News 10, Whitmer and her administration have announced they are reviewing possible criminal charges against the "green ooze" pollution incident along the eastbound lane of I-696 in Madison Heights.

The administration also said in their statement that they are taking actions to, "clean up the green ooze, hold the polluter accountable and strengthen the pollution inspection and enforcement procedures at the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to prevent contamination to prevent future contamination."

Gov. Whitmer released the following statement regarding the situation:

"Since taking office, I've remained committed to protecting public health and safety. The ongoing situation in Madison Heights is very concerning, and further stresses the need to enforce protections that keep Michiganders safe. State experts are on location assisting in the ongoing clean-up efforts. I’m grateful for their vigilant efforts during this holiday season.

“My administration is actively reviewing all means of accountability, including further criminal charges against the polluter who caused this mess. Today I also directed EGLE to conduct a formal review of its pollution inspection procedures to strengthen enforcement and accountability.

“This situation demonstrates the need for broad reforms to address problems of critical under-funding and under-staffing at the department following eight years of one-party control in Lansing. It’s time for Republicans in the legislature to ensure EGLE has the technology and resources it needs to keep the public safe. They should also pass ‘Polluter Pay’ legislation championed by Democrats in the Legislature that will force polluters to clean up the mess they make. Working with federal and local partners, my administration will stay focused on cleaning up contaminated sites sooner, addressing root causes, and holding polluters accountable.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also agreed with Gov. Whitmer's plan to tackle pollution, releasing the following statement:

"I strongly support the Governor’s commitment and my department will do everything in our power to assist Gov. Whitmer, EGLE Director Liesl Clark and her team as they pursue this latest threat to our environment. I have recently added new resources to our Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division and am creating a Criminal Unit that will focus specifically on environmental prosecutions. Our department takes environmental contamination very seriously – as witnessed by our actions against Enbridge and Wolverine and plan to take a more active enforcement role in this arena, working with EGLE.”

The green ooze substance was seen near Couzens Road about two weeks ago.

Officials said they believed the substance is contaminated ground water following a cleanup at a nearby electroplating business. The owner of that business was recently sentenced after he pleaded guilty to storing hazardous waste without a permit.

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters also released a statement on the situation:

“The green slime oozing beneath Oakland County is a warning sign for us all that our drinking water is being threatened more than ever before,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Toxic contamination is impacting our public health – from recent news that dozens of communities in metro Detroit found elevated lead levels to cancer-causing PFAS chemicals now in the drinking water of 1.4 million Michiganders. Lansing must step up. The Legislature and governor need to work hand-in-hand to do more than just talk about protections and clean up but put those words into action.”

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