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Flint River oily leak prompts cancellation of annual river event

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Steve Carmody
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Michigan Radio
An oily spill on the Flint River has prompted the cancellation of this year's Flint River Flotilla.

An annual public event on the Flint River has been canceled this year due to the lingering effects of an oily spill last month.

The Flint River Flotilla usually draws upwards of 300 people in tubes, canoes, and kayaks to float down the river.

But not this year.

Sarah Scheitler with the Flint River Corridor Alliance said they are still waiting on test results on the substance that state officials say leaked from a Flint chemical plant.

“Until we have those actual results in hand, we can’t feel comfortable putting families into the river,” said Scheitler.

Instead of an event on the river, the Flint River Corridor Alliance plans to host a pirate-themed event on land on Saturday, August 6.

Since the leak was discovered in the Flint River on June 15, crews have used absorbent booms and other means to remove thousands of gallons of the unidentified substance.

A state environmental agency spokesperson said the source of the breach at the Lockhart Chemical Company has been identified. But officials are still working to identify the substance.

The company produces a variety of products, including rust prevention additives and corrosion inhibitors.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy cited Lockhart for violations before last month’s leak.

A department spokesperson said the chemical company’s operations have been halted until a plan can be submitted that will ensure no future leaks into the Flint River.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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