Posted May 22, 2014
JACKSON, MI — About 800 gallons of motor oil and hydraulic fluid have been cleaned from the Grand River in Jackson since Sunday, May 18.
Federal, state and local officials expect more oil to be pulled from the river in the coming days. And the Grand River has been closed to recreational use from the Lions Park at Blackstone Street to Maple Grove.
Don Tucker, Jackson’s wastewater treatment superintendent, said the city’s fire and department of public works were alerted to the spill about 7 p.m. Sunday. They and the state Department of Environmental Quality put up booms to contain the spill.
On Monday, about 400 gallons of fluid were pulled from the river, and another 400 gallons was removed on Tuesday, Tucker said. The federal Environmental Protection Agency was called to the scene on Wednesday.
Tucker said it’s unknown how much more oil could be in the river or where it came from.
“With that amount (of oil) it’s not coming from residential,” he said.
The city and DEQ are checking the local stormwater system to see where the oil may have entered the drain and the DEQ is testing the oil, Tucker said. Kalamazoo-based Terra Contracting has been hired by the city to cleanup the oil.
Tricia Edwards, a federal on-scene coordinator with the EPA, said she does not think there will be any long-term effects to the Grand River from the spill, but the organization will continue to monitor it.
“We have not seen any oiled wildlife,” she said Wednesday evening.
What you need to know about Grand River oil spill
Posted May 22, 2014
JACKSON, MI – As crews work to remove oil from the Grand River between Lions Park and Maple Grove Road, officials continue to search for the source of the leak.
About 800 gallons of motor oil and hydraulic fluid were removed from the city’s stormwater system since Sunday, May 18. Some oil did leak into the Grand River, which is evident from the sheen on the surface of the river in certain areas. Officials believe more could be found in the stormwater system.
How much oil leaked into the Grand River? At this point, officials are not sure. An approximate 800 gallons was removed from a manhole connected to the city’s stormwater drain system before it hit the river, said Todd Knepper, director of the city’s Department of Public Works. A network of pipes and drains lie beneath manholes, including the city’s stormwater drain. Stormwater is essentially water that makes its way to the street into the gutters and into the stormwater pipe system before being discharged into the river.
What is being done? The city is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to find the source by back-tracking the stormwater system, Knepper said. The amount of oil discovered was too much to come from one household. The city hired Kalamazoo-based Terra Contracting to remedy the cleanup in the river. The company is planning to pull small amounts of water from the river to wash the banks of the river of any oil, according to Kenny Price, president of the Grand River Environmental Action Team. He said about 4,500 gallons of liquid was pulled from the stormwater system and at least 800 gallons was oil.
Who is responsible? Officials are hoping to find a responsible party to hold them accountable. They do not know who the source is, or where it originated, at this point. The city is estimating it will cost about $15,000 to $20,000 to remedy the river cleanup. If someone is found to be at fault for the leakage, Knepper said the city will seek reimbursement to cover cleanup costs. He said the level of ramifications for the responsible party depends on a few factors, including whether the leakage was intentional and if the party comes forward before being found.
If the leakage was discovered Sunday, May 18, why did the city wait three days to notify the public and the EPA?
Dispatch received a 911 call on Sunday, May 18, from someone who reported an oil-type sheen in the river, according to Jackson City Manager Pat Burtch. The fire department and officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality were on scene that night and booms were placed into the river. At that point, only a small amount was discovered and Burtch said it was not a danger to the public, and the EPA was not called. It wasn’t until after the rain storm Tuesday, May 20, that officials started to worry and called the EPA. The depth of the river raised by about one foot after the rain, which caused items like tree branches to clog up near the booms, allowing the oil to flow freely, Price said. The rain, which enters the stormwater system, was more than enough to push more oil through the system.
What, if any, environmental damage has been done?
It’s too early to tell what damage could have occurred but Tricia Edwards, a federal on-scene coordinator with the EPA, said she does not think there will be any long-term effects to the Grand River from the spill, but the organization will continue to monitor it.
This part of the Grand River ends in Grand Haven before it flows into Lake Michigan. “There should not be a lasting impact. But, the city needs to try and locate the spill source to prevent future events,” Price said.
Jackson Cleaning Up Oil Spill in Grand River
Posted May 23, 2014
Jackson public works crews are cleaning up an oil spill in the Grand River near Lions Park. Mayor Jason Smith announced it on his Facebook page Wednesday night, although MLive reports the city learned about it Sunday.
The city has closed the Grand River for public use between Adams Street and Maple Grove Road. Lions Park is closed as well.
The Mayor’s statement says the city does not know how large the spill is or where it’s coming from.
The fire department and the state Department of Environmental Quality are assisting with the cleanup.
Residents who live near the spill are not happy with the delayed announcement from the city.