City of Flint issues update on latest spill in Flint River

By EVM Staff

The City of Flint has shared updated information regarding a recently reported spill of an “oily substance” in the Flint River.

According to a press release on July 2, 2024, the spill was reported on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, from an outfall near the 1400 block of James P. Cole Boulevard, between Merrill Street and East Wood Street on the west side of the river.

“The City of Flint Sewer Department and Michigan Spill immediately responded and contained the spill with absorbent booms,” the release notes. “The spill has stopped and the booms remain in place.” Booms are floating, absorbent barriers used to contain substance spills in bodies of water.

Along with the update, the city released a “Community FAQ,” as follows:

What is the location of the spill?

The oily substance was discharged from an outfall near the 1400 block of James P. Cole Boulevard between Merrill St and E Wood St on the west side of the river.

What is the official guidance on interacting with the Flint River?

The spill affects the stretch of the Flint River from Hamilton Ave. to Grand Traverse St. The Genesee County Health Department recommends no contact with the river in this area.

Is City of Flint drinking water impacted by the spill?

No, Flint’s drinking water is NOT impacted by the spill. The City of Flint no longer sources water from the Flint River. The City purchases treated water from the Great Lakes Water Authority and the Genesee County Drain Commission, which both source water from Lake Huron.

What was the volume of spilled material?

About 1200 gallons of mixed oil and water have been removed from the river. The flow of contamination has stopped.

Has the spilled substance been identified?

The oily substance has not yet been identified; samples were sent to a lab for testing and results are expected in 1-2 weeks.

What agencies responded to the spill?

The City of Flint Fire Department and Sewer Department, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department responded to the spill. The City of Flint contracted with Michigan Spill to place booms to absorb and contain the spilled material. The City of Flint is continuing to investigate.

What was the source of the spill?

The source of the spill is still unknown. The City of Flint has conducted source tracing of the sewer lines and is continuing to investigate all possible avenues.

Why do these spills keep happening?

We do not know why we are seeing these frequent spills, but the City of Flint is continuing to investigate all possible avenues. Illegal dumping into storm drains is one possible cause; another possibility is soil contamination. We are working with EGLE to make a plan for soil testing near outfalls. Flint community members can assist by reporting any suspicious activity around storm drains to the 24/7 emergency sewer number, 810-766-7079.

What is the City of Flint doing to prevent spills into the Flint River?

A hard boom has been continuously maintained at the Utah Dam outfall since July 2023. The City of Flint Sewer Department will place another hard boom at the outfall between Wood and Merrill Streets. This prevents any contamination from entering the Flint River at these locations.

How many spills have happened on the Flint River recently?

Since this time last year, there have been four spills into the Flint River:

  • July 11, 2023 at the Utah Dam
  • January 8, 2024 between Wood & Merrill off of James P. Cole Blvd.
  • April 4, 2024 near Dort Highway and Whaley Park
  • June 25, 2024 between Wood & Merrill off of James P. Cole Blvd.

The list provided by the city does not include a high profile chemical leak into the Flint River in June 2022, which was later identified to come from Lockhart Chemical Company, also located along James P. Cole Blvd.

The annual leaks and spills have resulted in summer’s Flint River events, like Flint’s Floatilla, being cancelled and other water sports-related businesses, like Kayak Flint being forced to move or suspend operations for three summers in a row.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley did not respond to East Village Magazine’s request for whether he has any plans to help mitigate this ongoing issue, whether that be through fines, legal action, or other action for identified spill sources.

Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

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