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Clearance follows testing, analysis of air quality in sewers by State and County health officials

Wayne County, Mich. - The Wayne County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have determined that the Ford gasoline release into the sewer main is no longer a risk to the indoor air of Flat Rock homes and businesses in Zone 1, with the exception of residents of fewer than 15 homes that previously tested with concerning levels of benzene or had reportable odors.Therefore, the vast majority of Zone 1 residents can return home immediately because testing and analysis has demonstrated that sewer line gasoline vapors have been cleared and are no longer a threat to the indoor air of homes. Anyone with remaining health concerns regarding this gasoline release can call 734-782-2455, extension 1105.

This determination does not apply to occupants of homes that initially had elevated levels of benzene or had their homes tested by EPA because of odor complaints. These homes will require further analysis before receiving their final clearance letter, which could happen as soon as today.

Zone 1 is an area where public health officials believed there were potential health risks caused by fumes from a gasoline leak from a storage tank at the Ford Motor Co.'s Flat Rock Assembly Plant and recommended on September 4th that residents evacuate as a precaution until further notice. Zone 1 is an area of Flat Rock bounded by I-75 to the east, Gibraltar Road to the north, Cahill Road to the west, and Woodruff Road to the South.

"I want to thank Flat Rock residents for their resilience throughout this difficult time," said Wayne County Chief Operating Officer Genelle Allen. "Our goal throughout this process is to protect residents' health and safety. I'm pleased that testing and analysis results allows us to recommend most Flat Rock residents can return home. Wayne County and MDHHS are working diligently to clear the remaining homes as soon as possible."

Not all homes require indoor air testing because MDHHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paired data from sewer testing with some houses across Flat Rock that initially had elevated benzene levels or gasoline odors inside their homes to validate that air levels in homes are below health levels. MDHHS compared the indoor air quality data in those homes with test results for sewer lines and confirmed that gasoline-related sewer vapors were substantially prevented from entering the indoor air of those homes. This health-protective approach has been successfully used under similar conditions during previous incidents. Based on extensive sewer gas testing throughout Zone 1 and the paired-home confirmatory data, MDHHS concluded that the indoor air of other homes in Zone 1 will not be at risk of being impacted from benzene or other gasoline-related chemicals now that the gasoline release has been stopped.

"I'm pleased that Zone 1 residents now have assurance that the gas leak is not impacting the air quality in their homes," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan chief medical executive and MDHHS chief deputy director for health. "MDHHS has been and remains committed to protecting the health of Flat Rock residents."

Ford continues to provide families in the affected areas of Zone 1 and 2 with hotel accommodations in local hotels. While Zones 1 and 2 has been cleared for residents to return home, Ford will continue to provide hotel accommodations for those residents who requested testing at their home and are still awaiting their written results. If residents need accommodations, they can call 734-782-2455 extension 1105.