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Gasoline leak at Ford plant took days to find and repair

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Ford Motor Co. has a sizable mess on its hands in the area of suburban Detroit known as Downriver, after a gasoline leak at its Mustang plant prompted the evacuation of 1,100 homes during Labor Day weekend because of hazardous fumes.

State environmental inspectors received an anonymous tip alerting them to take another look at the problem a day after an inspection had found no evidence of a gasoline leak, The Detroit News reported.

The tip led inspectors and U.S. EPA officials to visit the Flat Rock Assembly Plant on Sept. 2, when they found Ford cleaning up a gasoline spill. The state had inspected the plant Sept. 1 but didn’t discover the leak because it occurred underground. The first inspection was two days after nearby residents had begun complaining to the city about smelling gasolinelike vapors.

Ford originally thought the problem was just a small leak, but by the time it plugged up the plant’s sewer lines, some 1,400 gallons had entered the Flat Rock sewer system. It filed a report with the state acknowledging the problem around the same time that inspectors returned to the plant, a spokesman told the newspaper.