Maintaining Detroit's Riverfront

The City of Detroit is committed to sharing information regarding Detroit riverfront inspections, clean up, and contamination prevention.

The Detroit River Shoreline Collapse

A portion of the Detroit River shoreline collapsed on Nov. 26, 2019, at the property at 5851 W. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit, where Detroit Bulk Storage receives, stores, and ships limestone aggregate. An area of land adjacent to the river appears to have collapsed or subsided, causing a portion of a pile of limestone approximately 40 feet high to spill into the river. The event destroyed about 250 feet of the concrete dock and underlying shoreline. Other sections of the seawall are still intact.
[Following information was updated on January 5th, 2020]

Summary of action taken by City of Detroit:

  • 152 inspections performed by BSEED to date includes both privately owned and City owned properties.
  • BSEED has issued 1054 tickets for issues, including failure to obtain a certificate of compliance:

    • failure to abate unsafe conditions,

    • unlawful storage of items outside, and

    • failure to maintain premises in good repair and/or inhabitable occupancy of premises.

    • Failure to submit the engineering or geotechnical report

  • BSEED has issued a total of $506,350.00 cumulative in fines to private property owners with violations.
  • BSEED has received 34 Seawall reports to date and will be working with the law dept to begin Nuisance Abatement lawsuits.

Actions taken toward site owners/operators

In response to the collapse, the City of Detroit brought a nuisance abatement lawsuit against the property owner, Revere Dock, Inc. and their commercial tenant, Detroit Bulk Storage.

Revere Dock and Detroit Bulk Storage resolved all their respective DAH tickets for 5851 W. Jefferson, Detroit, MI,  by payments from both companies to the City of Detroit.

The suit resulted in the City collecting sixty-three thousand dollars ($63,000.00) in fines from the owner and fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00) in fines from the commercial tenant.

In addition to these collections, resolution of the suit required the owner to coordinate with the State of Michigan (EGLE) to obtain a permit to repair the seawall and the sea-bank at 5851 W. Jefferson.  Furthermore, Detroit Bulk Storage was required to, and did, abate the blighted conditions by removing the aggregate (bulk material) piled up at the site.

Repair of the seawall is an ongoing concern; however, the property is otherwise up to standard.

Inspections of seawall structures

In response to this incident, BSEED will conduct biennial seawall inspections of all riverfront commercial properties and require owners to obtain a certificate of compliance which is good for two years. In addition to the COC BSEED  is  requiring an engineer evaluation every 5 years and if there is outside storage a geotechnical report is necessary every year.

BSEED has completed the visual inspections of all commercial seawalls along the river and have issued 6 different types of violation notices to address current issues. BSEED sent out fair warning letters to the privately owned properties  requiring an engineering evaluation of their seawall.

Public Information

BSEED has a current list of contaminated parcels along the Detroit and Rouge Rivers that is available below in the Documents section of this page. We will update it in July and biennial  going forward after conferring with EGLE, EPA, and other relevant agencies.

We have established this centralized website [this website] to contain all updates, testing results and policy changes coming as a result of this incident and ensured that all relevant documents are available on the site by March, 2020. These documents address concerns regarding the security, stability, and safety of the site as noted above.

Emergency Response and Notification

[This section was last updated on 01/05/2021] 

DHEM has a new agreement with our local partners (MSP, Coast Guard, EPA and EGLE) to notify us regardless of the severity of an issue from "their" vantage point. We have a similar agreement with Ontario, Provincial Emergency Management.

DHEM has filed the proper form with the National Response Center (NRC) to request direct notifications (instead of through the State) on incidents reported to them that affect the City of Detroit and the surrounding area. The NRC has accepted  our request and now reports incidents directly to the City of Detroit.

DHEM has completed an RFP for an "URGENT" community notification system, to supplement our National "EMERGENCY" notification system. The new system will be used by all departments for community notification such as boil water alerts, flooding or possible hazard material spills.  Implementation of this system should begin in the first quarter or this year.

Sign up for DHEM's Community Messaging System here.

Relevant Regulation

BSEED has reviewed the existing Bulk Storage Ordinance and determined that it is adequate to maintain the city’s riverfront.
The Law department is working with City Council to create a new Water Body Protection Ordinance.