Ford's Flat Rock plant has been forced to close after leaking 1,400 gallons of gas into the city sewers.
Like many automakers, Ford has had to make cutbacks as the semiconductor chip shortage continues to disrupt the auto industry. Back in July, several Ford production sites were shut down for a week due to supply issues, affecting popular models such as the Mustang, F-150, and Explorer. Once again, Ford's Flat Rock assembly plant has been forced to shut down this week, but this time the semiconductor shortage is not to blame.
CNN reports that a leak from a storage tank at Ford's Flat Rock plant caused 1,400 gallons of gas to spill into the city sewers. Thankfully, the gasoline levels in the sewers are not high enough to cause explosions, the local fire department confirmed.
However, the situation is still serious. With potentially hazardous benzene fumes leaking into the city's sewage system, residents are being advised to evacuate the area. The evacuation affects 465 homes in the Flat Rock area but is not mandatory. In a Facebook post, city officials said the air quality has not been assessed in the wake of the leak. "We are currently awaiting on instruments to monitor the levels of concerns posed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)," officials said. "Asset sampling will begin as soon as equipment is received."
While residents may not be able to see or smell the vapors, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the state's health department, warned they "could put your health at risk."
"We urge Michiganders in the affected areas to take swift action and evacuate their homes," he said. "You may not be able to see or smell the vapors that could put your health at risk, and we recommend everyone in the affected area consider relocating until further notice and we can confirm it is safe to return to your homes."
Production at Ford's Flat Rock plant, which manufactures the Mustang, Shelby GT350, and 350R, has been suspended for the rest of the week. After Ford's August sales left a lot to be desired, this latest shutdown will no doubt affect the Mustang's sales performance in September. A Ford spokesperson told WXYZ the air quality in the plant is safe, but many employees are evacuating their homes.