More Samples From Bear Creek Confirm Elevated Contaminants

Metro Detroit Community NewsWarren, MI - The second round of water samples taken from Bear Creek near a plating company responsible for a chemical release to the creek confirms the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), cyanide and heavy metals downstream from the release.

Samples showed elevated levels of some chemicals, but not at concentrations that would pose a risk to humans when people contact with creek water and/or sediment. Specifically, copper and cyanide were present in levels above those established to protect aquatic life. Concentrations of PFOS – part of the PFAS family – were slightly elevated.

Officials stress there was no impact to drinking water systems from the release, although all areas water systems were alerted as a precaution. Test results released by the Mt. Clemens water system – the closest system to where the Clinton River enters Lake St. Clair – showed no indication of elevated pollutants in drinking water.

Officials continue to advise caution against prolonged contact with creek waters and sediments as other contaminants and bacteria unrelated to the spill could be present and the creek is not a recreation area.

The samples were collected and analyzed by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). EGLE will use the sampling data to assess the impact to Bear Creek, determine next steps to ensure the protection of the environment, and will continue to work with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to ensure the protection of human health.

Contractors hired by the property owner continue to work on site cleanup plans under the oversight of EGLE, which continues to investigate the circumstances of the release.

It is suspected to have begun when a water line in the former Fini-Finish Metal Finishing plating shop broke on Jan. 24 causing an estimated 580,000 gallons of water to flood the shop, located at 24657 Mound Rd. As a result, chemicals associated with the plating business entered storm sewers that flow into Bear Creek. The creek flows into the Red Run Drain and then the Clinton River, which is a tributary to Lake St. Clair.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led the cleanup effort and turned the site over to Michigan EGLE last weekend for follow-through. An incident page with information from the EPA is available here.  EGLE’s test data is available here.

The EGLE samples were taken from throughout Bear Creek and Red Run Drain.

The chemicals identified in the downstream creek waters likely included those released from the facility, mixed with other water in this heavily urbanized stream that typically carries some industrial pollutants.

EGLE continues to investigate the circumstances of the release and is monitoring the property owner’s removal of the chemicals from inside the facility.

Determinations on potential violations, penalties and fines will be made after the investigation’s conclusion, which could take several more weeks.

Also see: Elevated Contaminant Levels Found In Creek After Spill In Warren

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