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Another seawall collapse due to gravel pile stored too close to Detroit River

Another seawall collapse due to gravel pile stored too close to Detroit River
December 1, 2021 Michigan Radio

By Michigan Radio

The Great Lakes News Collaborative includes Bridge Michigan; Circle of Blue; Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television; and Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader; who work together to bring audiences news and information about the impact of climate change, pollution, and aging infrastructure on the Great Lakes and drinking water. This independent journalism is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Find all the work HERE.


Part of a seawall along the Detroit River collapsed on Friday, believed to be caused by a pile of aggregate material stored too close to the shoreline at the Revere Dock.

But this incident is likely less serious than a similar seawall collapse on the river in 2019, involving the same dock owner and the same company, Detroit Bulk Storage.

Jill Greenberg is with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

She said unlike the 2019 incident, immediate action was taken to mitigate the damage, “and because of that, from what it looks like, the spill of soil has been largely contained to the dock.”

Greenberg said booms that absorb petroleum were placed near the dock, along with a turbidity curtain to keep possibly contaminated soil from moving into the river.

She said water samples were also taken on Friday to determine if toxic substances are in the soil and other material that was pushed into the water, and results are expected this week.

The section of seawall collapse at Revere Dock in 2019 was a matter of greater concern, because it happened near property that likely had radioactive materials on site in the 1940s, and because the site was upstream from a drinking water water intake valve.

Authorities also said they were not notified of the incident for days afterwards.

EGLE, the state’s environment agency, fined Revere Dock $60,000 for its role in the 2019 seawall collapse.

Detroit’s Building Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department said a preliminary review attributed the collapse to “improper storage” at Revere Dock’s property, according to the Detroit News.

“Apparently, the approved plans were not followed,” department Director David Bell said in an interview with the Detroit News. “We are currently exploring all legal remedies with the Law Department to address this business and the collapse issue.”

Detroit Bulk Storage and Revere Dock did not respond to a request for interviews or statements.


Catch more news on Great Lakes Now: 

Michigan drops oil pipeline suit, refocuses on separate case

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Featured image: Section of seawall collapses due to gravel piled too close to shore, November 2021. (EGLE)

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