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Environment & Climate Change

Crews work to contain significant spill in Flint River

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steve carmody
/
Michigan Radio
The spill in the Flint River.

Crews spent Wednesday working to contain a significant spill on the Flint River, stretching absorbent booms across the river.

Several thousand gallons of a substance that hasn't been identified apparently leaked into the river upstream from the city of Flint.

The spilled material is described as oil-based and dark black with a petroleum smell that looks similar to motor oil.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s Water Resources division took samples of the substance for analysis. A spokeswoman says what they learn in their investigation will guide remediation methods.

Officials say they have identified the potential source of the spill, but they have not revealed that source.

The Genesee County Health Department issued an advisory asking residents to avoid the area of the river north of Hamilton Street, and no contact should be made with the Flint River water until
more information is available.

“My concern is any foreign material in the watershed is going to disrupt any of the native wildlife,” said Patrick Scanlon, the executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition.

It’s the second significant spill in a Michigan river in the past week.

5,600 gallons of oil leaked from a steel plant in Ontario on June 9. The resulting spill spread down the St. Mary's River, which connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron.