Part of Flint River closed while spill clean-up continues

Flint River
Flint River(WNEM)
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 2:06 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - The Flint River is closed from Stepping Stone Falls to Willard Road while officials work to clean up a spill.

On Wednesday, June 15, officials with the city of Flint and Genesee County were notified of an oil-like substance in the Flint River. Test results to identify the substance are pending.

It’s unknown how much of the substance was released, but it extended with the water flow of the river.

The Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) is advising residents to avoid contact with the Flint River from Stepping Stone Falls to Willard Road until more information is available. Residents should avoid physical contact or eating fish from the Flint River in these areas until further notice.

The GCHD said officials must determine if the substance poses any danger before reopening the area.

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley provided an update on the petroleum-based substance spill in the Flint River.

“We have it contained right now with all of our partners from the EPA, from EGLE, to the county, to the city of Flint,” Neeley said.

A fisherman alerted authorities about the spill on Wednesday. About two hours later, the spill was contained, but not before up to 1,000 gallons got into the estuary.

Neeley wants residents to know this incident has no impact on the water coming out of their faucet.

“This is no threat to our drinking water here in the city of Flint. This was a spill into the Flint River water. It’s migrating into other counties, but we have contained it. And right now, we’re working our way back to trace and do an investigation looking at the cause of this,” Neeley said.

Neeley said he has some suspicions behind the cause of the spill, but he would not elaborate. He did say whoever is responsible for the mess will face consequences.

“We will hold them accountable. We will be very strict along the letter of the law. But we will definitely hold them accountable for this spill,” Neeley said.

The Genesee County Hazmat Team, the state of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (ELGE), as well as the Flint and Clio fire departments, and other partners are conducting a clean-up operation.

Neeley has issued a “no-contact” advisory telling residents to not fish, boat or swim in the Flint River from Stepping Stone Falls to the Genesee County Line.