The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Wayne County health department are urging residents to evacuate the Flat Rock area until further notice due to hazardous fumes created by a gas leak, according to a statement released by the Michigan State Police on Saturday night.
The affected area is bound by I-75 to the East, Gibraltar Road to the north, Cahill Road to the west and Woodruff Road to the South, and according to the release, the fumes were caused by a storage tank that leaked gasoline at Ford Motor Co.’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant.
“We urge Michiganders in the affected areas to take swift action and evacuate their homes,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief MDHHS medical executive and chief deputy for health.
“You may not be able to see or smell the vapors that could put your health at risk, and we recommend everyone in the affected area consider relocating until further notice and we can confirm it is safe to return to your homes.”
The release said that a response team will go door-to-door to inform residents of the evacuation and deliver quick and accurate information on how to do it.
The release states that while the specified area is at the greatest potential risk, experts are investigating the possible damage in a broader area.
Because it is unclear to where the chemicals have traveled, MDHHS and Wayne County Health Department said that they want to make sure that residents are aware that chemicals could have traveled to a greater area, the release said.
The broader area is bound by Gibraltar Road to the north, Sheeks Road to the west, East Huron Drive to the south, and Tamarack Road to the East. Buildings along Woodruff between East Huron River Drive and Cahill Road will also be investigated.
The chemical that is specifically putting residents at risk is benzene, a flammable and colorless liquid, which is considered a total Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), the release said. It can cause short- and long-term effects, including risk of cancer, blood problems and a harmed immune system.