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Cleanup of Dearborn W.R. Grace asbestos site begins next week; meeting April 5, 6:30 p.m.

Release Date: 3/28/2005
Contact Information:

Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050
Dave Novak, (312) 886-7478

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA033

CHICAGO (Mar. 28, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 next week begins cleanup of the former W.R. Grace vermiculite-processing plant at 14300 Henn St., in Dearborn, Mich. Once an investigative effort concludes, the project may expand to nearby residential properties.

Trailers and workers in required protective equipment may be visible beginning April 5 in an area bounded by Chase Road to the west, Schaefer Road to the east, Ford Road to the south and Warren Avenue to the north. A water spray and other engineering controls will be used to reduce dust during the work.

A public meeting to discuss the work, expected to last several months, will be held April 5, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Fordson High School auditorium, 13800 Ford Road. EPA will be joined by partner agencies including Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Community Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (a unit of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Representatives from ACCESS, which serves the Arab-American community, will also attend the meeting and assist with community outreach during the project.

The cleanup will address asbestos-containing waste material from W.R. Grace(s production of vermiculite, an ingredient used in residential attic insulation and potting soil. EPA has identified contamination at the former Grace plant (now owned by another business) and is investigating the possibility that some of the material may be in nearby yards or was used as fill in driveways. Grace operated at the Henn Street location from the early 1950s until 1989.

EPA believes it has not yet identified all the contamination in the area and would like to speak with residents as well as former Grace employees. Agency representatives will be contacting many residents directly in the weeks ahead. For more information, please contact community involvement coordinator Dave Novak, (312) 886-7478, or toll-free (800) 621-8431, Ext. 67478, weekdays 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Information about the cleanup is available for review at Henry Ford Community College(s Eshleman Library reference section, 5101 Evergreen Road. Materials in both English and Arabic are also available at the ACCESS Medical Center, 6450 Maple St.

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral compound composed of shiny flakes. Most vermiculite in the United States came from a mine near Libby, Mont., that also had a natural deposit of asbestos. Asbestos can cause health problems when breathed into the lungs and over time may result in lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.

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