By: Batoul Hassan
Summary: In early September, Flat rock’s residence evacuated their home in a hurry because Ford accidentally released 1,400 gallons of benzene gasoline into the city’s sanitary sewer system. At first, Ford assumed there was a small gas leak in one of the pipes, which they quickly shut down, but it somehow became a massive gas leak resulting in Flat Rock going into a state of emergency. Ford takes full responsibility for the gas leak, resulting in the company apologizing numerous times, shutting down production for a week, and renting out hundreds of hotel rooms with gift cards and free meals to the evacuated residents. There were also family events hosted by Ford to try and soothe the disturbance they created to the residence in Flat Rock. The Ford company also pledged $1 million to residences that were affected by the gas spill. While Ford is working earnestly to fix this situation by shutting down production for a week, using firefighting foam to suppress the benzene vapors, etc., Flat Rock Officials are knocking on residence doors to recommend evacuating their homes. The officials believe that the vapors will not put the residents in imminent danger, but it would be best if they evacuate the area. There has not been any notice on when the residences of Flat Rock can go back to their home and their daily routine, while the Ford company does not understand how the gas spill grew to that size. Until then, the Ford company is working tirelessly to understand how this leak happened and to make sure this type of situation never happens again.
Why we should care? As a resident living in the same county as Flat Rock, we need to be aware that the gas leak is not over yet, and the benzene vapors coming from the sewer lines are extremely flammable and dangerous.
This article was fascinating to me because the Ford company quickly acknowledged that it was their mistake that created a gigantic gas leak and the company was more than willing to help the evacuated residences of Flat Rock. The company even rented out hotel rooms so the residents could be comfortable while this gas leak is occurring in their area. Not only were free rooms given out, but Ford also gave out free meal cards and gift cards to make the residents of Flat Rock more comfortable with their situation. I also find it interesting that Ford does not know why this gas leak occurred, but they are still working tirelessly to figure out why the gas spill happened and how never to let this type of situation happen again. Flat Rock is also part of my county, and I enjoy knowing what's happening in Michigan, even if I do not live in that area.
Science in Action.
Dr. Stefan Schwietzke is an international senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund who studies local and global emissions inventories, methane emissions, and atmospheric measurements.
Dr. Schwietzke travels around the world to look at countries' methane emissions and characterize their emissions from local to global areas. As of right now, he is working with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to identify emissions of methane and how to minimize the emissions. Dr. Schwietzke would be extremely helpful with Flat Rock’s gas leak crisis because benzene and methane are extremely similar gases, both being organic compounds, but their chemical structures are different. Dr. Schwietzke will be able to see how much emissions are in the air locally because of the gas leak and discover the environmental issues that have occurred because of the leak. Since Dr. Schwietzke has worked in multiple corporations related to biofuels, he will also be able to help Ford with understanding how the gas leak happened and dealing with the aftermath of the gas spill.