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Great Lakes Article:

Answers sought for chemical spill
Associated Press
02/04/04

PORT HURON - Area residents never were in any danger from a toxic chemical spill into the St. Clair River, state officials said.

But the investigation continues into why the leak occurred.

The Imperial Oil plant south of Sarnia, Ontario, dumped about 40,000 gallons of methyl ethyl ketone and methyl isobutyl ketone into the river between 3 and 4:20 a.m. Sunday. The chemicals, which are low in toxicity, are used to produce lubrication oil.

The Ontario Ministry of Environment is investigating the spill, spokesman John Steele said.

Jeffrey A. Friedland, St. Clair Countyís emergency management coordinator, said water intake plants south of the spill used supplies Sunday drawn before the pollutants flowed past and residents were safe to drink the water.

Water from the St. Clair River flows into Lake St. Clair and then into the Detroit River and on into Lake Erie.

Imperial Oil spokeswoman Janet Maaten said the spill occurred when a leak in a heat exchanger caused the chemical to mix with cooling water, and the cooling water was discharged into the St. Clair River.

Chemicals such as those released Sunday arenít intended to come in contact with the cooling water, Maaten said, which is why the water is not treated before entering the river.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sent a Michigan State Police helicopter to pick up water samples from the river for analysis in Lansing.

Test results didnít detect any of the chemicals along the U.S. shore, but state and county officials decided to close water plants until those results came back.

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