Test results show oil, gas in Midland river - WNEM TV 5

Test results show oil, gas in Midland river

Posted: Updated:
Source: Jacob Akley Source: Jacob Akley

Mid-Michigan residents were concerned after a video was posted on social media allegedly showing a chemical pouring into the Tittabawassee River in Midland.

Jacob Akley posted the video to the Issues and Events in Midland Facebook page on Wednesday, April 11. The video was viewed nearly 10,000 times and shared by more than 260 people.

"That was my intention was trying to get as many people involved and noticed as much as possible," Akley said.

Akley said he lives by the Tridge and was pushing his son in a stroller when he saw the sheen on the water. 

“The reasons our fisheries are in decline in many inland rivers. Yet time and time again we fail to take the necessary precautions to contain possible contamination. This oil or substance is just poring through,” Akley wrote in his post.

Akley was concerned the chemical may be coming from the nearby M-20 construction site.

The City of Midland posted on Facebook Wednesday, April 11, saying they were made aware of the video making the rounds on social media. They wanted residents to know the M-20 bridge project is led by the Michigan Department of Transportation, not the city.

In an update that evening, the city said MDOT conducted a check of their equipment and the site.

“It does not appear the source is from the M-20 work zone. City crews will continue to check the area and will provide more information as it becomes available. We're still unsure of what this substance is at this time,” the city said.

The city posted another update on Thursday saying wastewater crews were collecting water samples for analysis.

“The entry point has been determined to be a storm drain that is upriver of the M-20 construction site. With wet weather bringing water from all over the City into the river, it's unlikely that a localized source can be determined. The proper officials have been notified,” the city said in the post.

"We've talked with MDOT and made sure it wasn't a leak coming off the construction site which we've shown it's not," Midland City Manager Brad Kaye said. "It actually originated somewhere upstream possibly a storm outlet. And it's been tested. Sampled and basically, the tests are off right now and we're waiting for the results."

Akley said he's glad his video is bringing attention to the issue and causing others to take action. 

"We can’t turn a blind eye to chemicals in our rivers. It’s detrimental to the ecosystem," Akley said. "I would like to know what specifically it is and where it came from." 

On Thursday, April 19, Midland City Manager Brad Kaye said the test results showed low levels of oil and gas in the sample.

"It would appear that the results are consistent with a small discharge.  Our suspicion is that it was a small discharge in to a storm sewer system upstream.  That said, given that this was not reported directly and observation/sampling was therefore delayed, we have not been able to definitively determine where it entered the river or in what quantity," Kaye said. 

If you see a recurrence, you are asked to contact the MDEQ at 1-800-292-4706.

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