Robert Hayes of Geoforensics Inc., a forensic geologist and former employee of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, issued a report yesterday, June 30th, finding that the Berkey & Gay developers had violated state environmental laws during the renovation of the old furniture factory in downtown Grand Rapids. Hayes prepared the report on behalf of L.A.W.
This is the conclusion of the Hayes report:
"Based on the information I reviewed (referenced in the Appendix), it is my professional opinion that re-development activities at the former Berkey and Gay property resulted in non-compliance with Section 7a of Part 201, as well as violations of various other portions of Part 201 and other state regulations.
"Documents generated by the owners/operators of the property located at 900-1010 Monroe Ave. in Grand Rapids, MI, show that these properties are a facility, according to Part 201. The Due Care Compliance Analysis set forth due care obligations to prevent exacerbation of contamination, to mitigate exposures to contaminated soil, and to take reasonable precautions against acts or omissions of a third party. However, these obligations were not met and the public health, safety, welfare, and/or environment are threatened and/or contaminated.
"Moving contaminated soil from one area of the property to another, less contaminated area, exacerbated existing contamination on site. Also, contaminated soil was excavated and transported from the site to an unapproved off-site location. Again, this action exacerbated existing contamination by spreading contamination to an off-site location. Furthermore, this action threatened the public health, safety, welfare, and/or the environment, potentially increased the public’s exposure to contaminated soil and groundwater, and did not protect against foreseeable acts or omissions of third parties. There was no documentation of compliance – except for an after-the-fact attempt. And, the disposition of the abandon containers is still unknown.
"Property owners/operators and others involved in the re-development activities described above are subject to fines and penalties because the contamination at this facility was known and documented and because contaminated soil was knowingly transported to an off-site location. As a result, the fines are likely to be very high (i.e., in the millions of dollars) and the penalties potentially include criminal liability." [Emphasis added.]