Cooperative Effort between DEQ and Steel Plant Cleans Environment, Creates Jobs

Cooperative problem solving by the Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, a South Lyon-based manufacturer of steel tubing, has reinvigorated a stalled environmental cleanup and brought 220 jobs back to this Oakland County community.

Steel tubing has been manufactured at the 58-acre factory site since the 1920s. Heavy industrial activities resulted in contamination of soil and groundwater at the site with heavy metals, including arsenic and lead, and degreasing solvents.

After several changes of ownership in the 1990s, the facility was in bankruptcy court and it appeared that cleanup expenses would revert to the taxpayers. The facility, which at its peak had employed over 250 people, was on "warm shutdown" with a skeleton staff of five.

A consortium of investors, led by former steel company executive Russ Maier, proposed purchasing the facility if they could control expenditures for environmental cleanup. Negotiations between the DEQ and the investors led to a Consent Order whereby MST and the DEQ agreed to cap annual cleanup expenses until the cleanup is determined to be complete. As part of this arrangement, MST also agreed to meet by certain dates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Indicators for Human Exposures Controlled and Migration of Contaminated Groundwater under Control.

Mr. Maier, MST Chairman, stated, "We are committed to investigating and cleaning the site in compliance with the Consent Order. Without the cooperation of the DEQ in negotiating a limit to the cleanup expenses, purchase of the company would not have taken place.

"Today, approximately two years after signing the Consent Order, MST is operating with approximately 220 employees and is turning a profit. A considerable amount of site investigation has been completed, and more investigative activity is scheduled for this summer. Interim measures have been completed to ensure that contamination at the facility poses no immediate threat to human health or the environment.

"Thanks to the hard work and cooperative efforts of both MST and DEQ staff, South Lyon now enjoys a cleaner environment and a healthier economy," said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. "Instead of an abandoned brownfield, the community has a major employer that is actively working on cleaning up historical contamination."