Answers sought for chemical spill
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 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.