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Uranium-contaminated site collapses into Detroit River

A Detroit riverfront property contaminated with uranium and other dangerous chemicals partially collapsed into the water, the Windsor Star reported.

Located next to Historic Fort Wayne and leased by Detroit Bulk Storage, the site, known as the Detroit Dock allegedly collapsed under the weight of large aggregate piles that were stored at the site on Nov. 27, during Thanksgiving weekend.

The property has been listed by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency as a contaminated site due to its use of uranium and other dangerous chemicals during manufacturing dating to the 1940s, according to the Star.

Located at 5851 West Jefferson, the property formerly was a Revere Copper and Brass site. Revere Copper was subcontracted in the 1940s to build the world’s first atomic bomb and continued to make uranium rods in the 1950s.

The site has faced scrutiny regarding safety hazards and who would be held responsible for its clean up.

According to a 2011 evaluation study by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the property, at that time there was a “potential exists for significant residual radiation.”

The news is especially concerning because the Detroit drinking water intake lines are nearby downriver.

Due to the timing of the collapse, the spill went unnoticed to many responsible state and federal environmental regulatory agencies. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials were not aware of the collapse until contacted by the Star on Wednesday.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority was also informed as they are in overseeing the construction of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge nearby.

WDBA’s Mark Butler said Wednesday, “WDBA is aware of the spill of aggregate from a marine facility into the Detroit River. We are committed to the highest levels of environmental protection and are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the matter.”