FLINT, Michigan (WNEM) — Experts continue to investigate the cause of a spill in the Flint River.
Substances found in the water have been traced back to one local chemical company, but the state is still looking into the possibility other sources are also contributing to the issue.
“The investigation is still ongoing. We have identified the source that we think is responsible for the main breach,” said Cheri Meyer, with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s water resources division.
Meyer is leading the state’s response to the mishap.
A leak in Lockhart Chemical’s secondary containment system is the cause for the oily mess, Meyer said.
“What is being put into their underground secondary containment system is discharging through the ground and into the storm sewer and then out to the river,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the company, which halted production, has worked with investigators since the onset of the incident.
“They do have regret. They were not aware that this was occurring. They have been cooperating with us since the discharge was first noticed,” Meyer said.
Tens of thousands of gallons of a mixture of petroleum products and other chemicals have been removed from the Flint River, but more is flowing in, Meyer said.
“There is product or materials that are still being discharged out that outflow. We are investigating to see if that can be attributed to Lockhart, or if maybe it is something else that is from another source,” Meyer said.
Meyer is quick to point out that discharge is being contained.
“There are a series of booms which are at the outflow. And the outflow is monitored daily. It’s also skimmed daily. And Lockhart and their consultants have been told to notify EGLE if there is any change in the discharge, or if that discharge goes beyond the booms again,” Meyer said.
EGLE is working with Lockhart on how the company can resume operations safely without putting more discharges in the Flint River.
The Flint River remains closed from Stepping Stone Falls to Leith Street. Everyone should avoid physical contact with the water and refrain from eating fish from the Flint River until an all-clear is issued by the Genesee County Health Department.
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