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Crews still investigating Flint River spill, no contact order still in effect

Crews are making progress removing last week’s oil spill from the Flint River and containing what is left.
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:22 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - Crews are making progress removing last week’s oil spill from the Flint River and containing what is left.

Officials say they are checking all the river for breaches and reviewing other industries along the water.

“This should be a gut check for everybody to check your systems, check your protocols, because today it’s Lockhart, and if you’re not careful it could be somebody else,” said Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson.

Officials said so far 13,000 to 14,000 gallons have been pulled out.

Birds and turtles that were impacted have been cleaned and released. Nine out of 10 contaminated sites of bushes and trees have been cleaned.

Officials have not found the exact breach yet.

“We know the location, we have it pinpointed, but this is a site that has had decades and decades and decades of industry on that exact piece of land. So, to dig down we have to do it meticulously and I think that it was described best as, as like an autopsy of the dirt,” Swanson said.

Right now, there is still some residual flow. It has been captured by the booms.

There is a cease-and-desist order against Lockhart from the city of Flint.

“That will remain in place until they acquiesce to the full compliancy of the law, making sure that we can remediate this problem from our environment once and forever,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley.

There is not an exact number yet, but Sheriff Swanson estimated the damage to be well into the millions of dollars.

The no contact order is still in effect for all of the Flint River in Genesee County from Stepping Stone Falls through Barbara Park in Montrose.

“We have crews out there that, in the process of cleaning that up, are also cleaning up additional debris and things that have been found in the river to not only get the contaminant out of the water but to make the water a better place than what it was before this emergency started,” said Genesee County Commissioner Domonique Clemons.

Swanson said he does not know the exact substance in the river still and tests are being done.