Ford Stops Production at Mustang Plant After Gas Leak Forces Evacuations

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Ford Motor Company announced earlier this week that its Mustang assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan had to be evaluated and shut down due to a fuel leak. 

Jill Greenberg, a Spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, shared with USA Today that although Ford was able to stop the leak, it released 1,400 gallons of gasoline. Ford has also pledged $1 million to benefit the Flat Rock residents who were affected by the leak. It was reported that the leak actually sent benzene-containing vapors into the sanitary sewer systems. 

As a result of Ford’s fuel leak, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Wayne County CEO Warren Evans declared a state of emergency for both Monroe and Wayne counties. The vapors were reportedly detected at manhole covers and in some homes at flammable levels. 

T.R. Reid, Ford Spokesman, also shared in an addition to halting Mustang production at the plant, the company is seeking to help local residents who voluntarily have evacuated from the area. This includes Ford employees. 

“We’re not going to prioritize building vehicles this week. There are high priorities right now. Some of our own people are in the affected areas and so they’re away from their homes.”

Ford’s Response to the Fuel Leak in Michigan’s Monroe & Wayne Counties

Ford is notably covering hotel costs as well as meals and personal items with gift cards to those affected by the leak. “Lives are being disrupted. We’ve got an obligation to try and help,” Reid continues. He said the company has volunteers who have been out with other folks. They are also marshaled by the city, knocking on doors, and getting information out of residents.

Reid further explained that while the vehicle production is temporarily stopped, a skeleton crew of 1,900 employees is remaining on site. They will be coordinating with local, state, and federal officials to find answers to questions about the incident. 

In regards to what caused the leak, to begin with, Reid said Ford is still looking into what happened.

“This isn’t being treated as an anomaly. We hope it is. But you have to take what you learn and apply it every place. We’ve got daily meetings and guidance and support. Our people are trying to anticipate the needs. A lot of folks are working on things where they don’t have expertise.”

According to Reid, all actions at the factor are prescribed by environmental and health regulations. He assured that every agency is following protocol carefully. Reid then adds that Ford’s marketing people are currently on hotel and meal cards for those residents evacuating from the area.

“There’s a lot of people pitching in. We’re doing that because we’re the source of the problem.”