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True Halloween Stories: PM Team Shares Creepy Tales from the Field

Monday, October 31, 2016
The vacant high school in Portland, Michigan welcoming a new visitor

PM employees are rather accustomed to finding things underground, such as leaking underground storage tanks and contaminated soil. However, they’ve discovered some mysterious, obscure, and oftentimes, ghoulish items, both below and above ground, while out in the field doing environmental site assessments, remediation, and emergency response.

Below are some fun, quirky stories about everything from paranormal activity to a pet cemetery that PM employees have encountered over the years. 

Paranormal Activity

On a gray, snowy, bitterly cold day, PM project manager Jaclyn Schafer pulled up to the property she would be inspecting for her Phase I ESA report.

The building was an old, vacant high school in Portland, Michigan, that was built in 1910. With no lights or electricity, the towering structure looked dark and ominous.

The vacant high school in Portland, Michigan welcoming a new visitor The maintenance person appeared out of nowhere let her into the school, and left shortly thereafter. She began cautiously walking through the building, steps echoing as she entered each empty, freezing room, taking pictures and making notes.  The little light from the outdoors was waning as she slowly made her way downstairs. 

As she approached the boiler room and raised her Samsung tablet to take pictures, it suddenly began spastically blinking and locking up.  Schafer had been taking pictures throughout the visit and had never encountered this issue in the entire two years she had the tablet. She quickly dismissed it as an oddity until she smelled cigarette smoke coming out of nowhere. 

She knew she was the only person in the basement, and a non- smoker. 

Edging slowly backwards, Schafer eventually made her way up the stairs and out of the high school. She rushed back to her car and once inside, examined her tablet, which was working perfectly - as it always had. 

Spooky Discovery 

Two PM Field Scientists were conducting Phase II work in an abandoned commercial building in Detroit, Michigan. They made their way down to the basement cellar in search of the best place for soil borings.  As they were removing debris, they exposed a piece of something solid and white.  They carefully swept away more dirt to unearth a giant bone - with a hand attached to it. 

They froze.  Was it part of a corpse? What happened in this basement?  Neither knew exactly what to do, so they made their way out of the cellar and called the Detroit Police Department. Within minutes, the police arrived, accompanied by Forensic Scientists and Crime Scene Investigators. 

After an on-site investigation, the scientists and investigators determined that the bone was actually fake, and the building had previously been a Halloween/Costume Shop. 

Pet Cemetery 

An insurance company contacted PM for an emergency response to an above-ground storage tank that had been leaking heating oil onto a homeowner’s property for seven days. 

The PM Field crew arrived on the scene and was greeted by a multitude of dogs, cats and rabbits, apparent residents of the property, along with the home owner.  The endless stream of unkempt animals made it was obvious they were dealing with an animal hoarder. 

Along with pets, the property owner loved the PM Field Crew.  Every day as they were conducting investigations on the property, she would sit on her porch, in nothing but a bathrobe, and serenade them with a broken harp.

As they drilled the property, they discovered hundreds of animals buried underground in “coffins”, such as old whiskey barrels and gas cans. Each gravesite was adorned with its own headstone. 

The Visitor

What is walking through this photo taken on a Phase I site walk in Mount Clemens, Michigan? No smokers or smoke testing anywhere near this room.