Charlevoix County Crews Say Walloon Lake Oil Spill Could Take Weeks to Clean Up

An oil spill at a construction site has contaminated Walloon Lake.

Neighbors on the 4000 block of Ellis Road in Charlevoix County smelled something strong coming from the lake on Tuesday night and noticed a filmy sheen on the water and called 911.

Charlevoix County deputies and the Boyne City Fire Department responded and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy was alerted.

The spill started at a construction site when demolition crews were tearing down a 100 year old lodge. The workers discovered an old, 250 gallon oil storage tank in the basement.

They tried to remove it, but part of the nearly half-full basin drained down old pipes that led directly to the embankment of the lake.

It’s unclear how much spilled, but it was enough for neighbors two doors down to smell it.

“[I was] literally sitting on our porch and suddenly there’s just this huge waft of diesel fumes came rolling over,” said Mark Rowland who lives on Ellis Road. “It was really a strong, strong odor. You could see the sheen of the water which turned out to be fuel oil in the lake.”

Rowland called the Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy who told him to call the authorities.

Their quick actions helped prevent a potentially catastrophic spill.

Thankfully the whole lake will be okay, but it’s not safe to swim or boat near the area.

“The booms are still in the water, the crews are still there, so we don’t recommend going near the cleanup site,” said Josephine Roberts, the executive director of the Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy.

Crews say it could take days or weeks to completely clean up the spill.