Ford Chemical Spill: Lawsuit Press Conference

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LIVONIA, Mich. June 19, 2019 – Families living in the Alden Village neighborhood of Livonia are calling a press conference, where they will describe how the cancer-causing chemicals which have migrated from Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant into their neighborhood have wreaked havoc on their lives, “putting them through hell,” and making their lives a “living nightmare.” The families will also demand that Ford immediately install a barrier on its property to prevent the continued migration of its chemicals into the neighborhood, and undertake remedial action in the neighborhood to remove the chemicals from the groundwater so that the disruption of the lives of the families will be minimized.

34921 Beacon St., Livonia, MI

Beginning in 2016, cancer-causing chemicals originally dumped on Ford’s property were detected in the shallow groundwater underneath the homes in Alden Village. The principal chemical is known as “vinyl chloride;” it is classified by government health agencies as a “known human carcinogen.” It is especially dangerous because, while in the groundwater, it converts to vapor, and can migrate upwards into the breathing space of the homes, where the residents can be exposed to it without their knowledge, because vinyl chloride is colorless and odorless. This is a process known as “vapor intrusion.”

Many of these families sued Ford in 2017, because the contamination threatened their health, and has caused them significant loss in the value of their homes, which are, for most families, their most valuable asset.

Further testing in 2017, 2018 and 2019 confirmed not only that vinyl chloride remained in the neighborhood’s shallow groundwater, threatening vapor intrusion into the homes, but also that other cancer-causing chemicals were actually in the indoor air of homes – chemicals known as PCE and TCE. These chemicals were also released from Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant. This indoor air contamination was discovered through testing by Ford’s own representatives inside the Alden Village homes. This testing is a days-long process for Alden Village families, as Ford representatives are in their homes for hours each day, typically moving household items to facilitate testing, and seriously disrupting family life.

Ford’s own testing has shown that carcinogens from its Livonia Transmission Plant are throughout Alden Village, and serious measures need to be taken to protect these families.

However, rather than clean up these chemicals from its own Transmission Plant property, and stop their flow into Alden Village, Ford – as directed by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) – began in 2019 to try to install “vapor mitigation systems” in some of the Alden Village homes. The purpose of these systems is not to rid the contamination from the neighborhood, but instead to leave the chemicals in place, and attempt to prevent them from migrating in vapor form into the homes.

But, because Ford’s representatives do not know what they are doing with these installations, and because Ford has not dedicated enough resources to these installations, the process has only made living with Ford’s contamination much worse for these families. For example, as Alden Village families will detail at the press conference:

  • Ford initially told them that the installation will take a few weeks, but some installations are going to take many months. Some installations begun in February, for example, will not be completed until July or August, or later.
  • During installation, Ford representatives – often dressed in hazmat suits – are inside the families’ homes as they do their installation work. This has badly disrupted family work schedules – as homeowners need to take off of work to be at their home during the installation – school schedules, children and grandchildren care schedules, and has caused many other problems.
  • Homeowners have to leave their homes for extended periods of time – days or weeks – because the installation process requires the disabling of the home’s hot water heater and furnace, and because a sealing of the home’s walls against vapor intrusion (a process known as “retro-coating”) causes the homes to stink badly for extended periods of time.
  • The Ford work includes installation of piping, walls, floors and other structural work which is resulting in families losing living space in their homes
  • Ford mitigation teams are short-staffed. Not enough workers are dedicated to these installations, causing them to take far longer, and to be far more disruptive, than they should. One Ford representative called the installation process in the neighborhood a “dysfunctional mess.”
  • Ford’s representatives largely do not know what they are doing. Many have never worked on a project like this before, and are clearly “experimenting” with these installations.

In summary, the installation process is creating problems, not solving them. It is only making it far more difficult for these families to contend with the presence of Ford’s cancer-causing chemicals throughout their neighborhood.

And so the time has come – in fact, it is long past time – for Ford to do the only thing that will assure these families of protection: clean up the contamination from its own Transmission Plant property; clean up the contamination currently in the neighborhood; and erect a barrier on Ford’s property that stops the further flow of these chemicals into the neighborhood.

The homeowners are represented by Shawn Collins, Norm Berger and Ed Manzke of The Collins Law Firm in Naperville, IL, and by Jay Schwartz and Mary Mahoney of Schwartz Law Firm, P.C., of Farmington Hills, Michigan.

About The Collins Law Firm: The Collins Law Firm represents families against polluters throughout the United States, fighting for clean air, soil and water, and compensation for injury to property and health caused by dangerous chemicals dumped and spilled into the environment.

For more information on The Collins Law Firm please visit:


Media Contacts: Shawn Collins, cell: (630) 272-8148;
Norm Berger, cell: (312) 316-8988
Ed Manzke, cell: (630) 853-9463

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