Ford Flat Rock gas line installer says leak should have triggered an alarm

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PLAT ROCK, Mich. – Officials with the United States Environmental Protection Agency measured levels of toxic benzene house by house Thursday in Flat Rock.

The gas came from an underground fuel leak at a nearby Ford Motor Company plant.

More than 1,000 homes have been evacuated in parts of Flat Rock as the EPA continues testing.

Jerry Clark was in charge of installing the hoses and gas tanks at the Ford Flat Rock assembly plant. He said that if there was a leak, the alarm should have gone off immediately.

“I’ve been a pipefitter for 43 years,” said Clark. “I worked 110,000 hours of work. I handle just about all the big jobs in Michigan and Wayne County. “

Clark said he was shocked when a leak from the Flat Rock plant found its way from the plant to the sewer system. He said he installed the fiberglass gas lines at the plant years ago and the pressure pipeline is buried about four feet deep. The double-walled pipe was built to never leak as it pumped gas through the factory to fill new cars.

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After years of use there was a leak, but an alarm should have alerted Ford right away.

“If something had leaked, it should have set off an alarm,” Clark said. “It’s like having an alarm in your house, someone breaks in and the alarm goes off.”

Clark wants to know how long the leak allowed gasoline to escape and leave toxic fumes of benzene inside homes in Flat Rock. Ford said it found the leak the day after state inspectors arrived at the plant on Wednesday. It took an anonymous tip to fire the inspectors.

“When I was there, there was only one place you could find gasoline, it was over the pit. If there had been a leak anywhere else to do so much damage, it’s hard to believe, ”Clark said. “I don’t understand if it was a tank leak or a hose leak, it was someone’s negligence.”

Clark said he was surprised that so much fuel could have escaped the hose, devastating so many lives.

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