Cleanup is underway after diesel spilled into a creek in Wexford County.
Wexford County Emergency Management director, Randy Boike, said they got a call about the diesel leak in Antioch Township this past weekend.
Boike said the leak was caused by a diesel fuel tank that ran an irrigation pump.
“We’re still waiting on the soil information and the water information at this point,” said Boike.
It happened within a few feet of Cole Creek and had been leaking for quite some time.
Boike said he’s not sure how much diesel leaked out and they may never know.
“The leak itself originated off the irrigation apparatus and onto the ground. And it saturated the ground along the riverbank, which then flowed from the soil into the stream. And we were able to see both the contamination in the soil and a sheen of oil as far as nearly a mile downstream on top,” said Boike.
With the help of other local agencies, emergency officials removed the source of the leak and cleaned up most of the contaminated soil.
Jeff Johnston, spokesperson for Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, AKA EGLE said not all of the contamination could be removed because part of it is right up against the creek bank and bed.
“We had to leave us an amount of the soil so that we didn’t, you know, create an erosion problem with the bank and wash a bunch of silt and contamination downstream. So that’s kind of the remaining challenge here is how do we protect the integrity of the stream bed and also remove the last portion of this contamination,” said Johnston.
EGLE also placed hydrocarbon booms in the water to absorb the diesel. Boike said it’s about a three-mile run from the location of the spill to the Manistee River.
“I don’t know that, if it would be an impact, could it reach there? We don’t, I don’t know the answer to that yet. Hopefully with the hydrocarbon booms, we’ve seen already a significant reduction in the amount even close to the spill that it’s reduced, " said Boike.
EGLE is testing the soil and water for environmental impact to the land, water, wetlands, and wildlife.
For people like Jessie Rider who lives near the creek, they are upset about the contamination.
“I was really mad and upset. We do have a one-and-a-half-year-old, obviously, who does play in it. I float in it. My husband fishes out of it. So, we just weren’t happy. You know, we wanted it to be resolved and to know why they would do that or why it would happen,” said Rider.
EGLE said they will be looking into who is responsible for the diesel leak, but the most immediate concern is the safety of the public.