DEQ identifies source of spill into the Sebewaing River - WNEM TV 5

DEQ identifies source of spill into the Sebewaing River

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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
SEBEWAING, MI (WNEM) -

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality reports it has found the source of a spill into the Sebewaing River.

The DEQ was on the scene Tuesday. They believe the spill is coming from a storm drain from Michigan Sugar, according to Bob Lehmann, an Environmental Quality Analyst with the DEQ.

The spill, which is being described as biodegradable and as some kind of organic material, is causing trouble for fish.

TV5 crews on the scene reported seeing many dead fish and others coming to the surface trying to get to the more oxygenated water.

As the material degrades, it is sucking the oxygen out of the water, Lehmann said.

Upstream from where the spill is believed to have started, the dissolved oxygen level is 9 mg per liter.

At the storm sewer at M-25, and further downstream as the river flows into the Saginaw Bay, it is less than .5 mg per liter, according to the DEQ.

Although it’s not exactly clear what the substance is, a resident in the area said it smells like raw sewage and the spill turned the river black.

“It smells like sewage, but that doesn’t mean it’s human sewerage,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann also said it appears the flow into the river is slowing down.

The DEQ has contacted Michigan Sugar and asked them to clean out their storm sewer.

"This stuff is going to degrade. When it degrades the problem goes away. The problem is intermediate and it's happening right now. We're getting huge fish kill and once the material is degraded, the river and the bay go back to what they have been," Lehmann said.

Michigan Sugar sent TV5 a statement in response to the spill, 

Michigan Sugar is actively investigating the cause of the release into the Sebewaing River. At this point, the cause of the release is unknown. As recently as this morning, the DEQ had informed Michigan Sugar of their belief that Michigan Sugar was not the cause. We have dispatched experts to help determine the source and minimize any further environmental impact. We will be updating the media and the public as we learn more information about the source of this release. As longstanding members of the Sebewaing community, we are committed to doing our part to addressing this situation as quickly and effectively as possible.

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