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Great Lakes Article:

Dearborn company is focus of search

Officials seek clues to oil spill in April

June 19, 2002


Federal and state officials investigating an April oil spill in the Rouge and Detroit rivers are expected to continue searching a Dearborn oil reclamation facility today for clues to the spill's origin.

Officials from the FBI, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Attorney's Office, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and the state Attorney General's Office spent Monday and Tuesday executing a search warrant at Comprehensive Environmental Solutions on Wyoming at Ford, an FBI spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Early in the investigation, oil was found in a sewer line that runs along Wyoming.

The search warrant was sealed, but a person close to the investigation said it likely included documents that would detail how much oil the facility took in and how much it shipped out. Samples of oil also likely would be collected to see whether it matched oil taken from the Rouge, which has been analyzed by scientists and given a unique fingerprint.

In April, more than 60,000 gallons of used industrial oil spilled into the Rouge and traveled about two miles to the Detroit River. It then floated in several small patches down the river into northern Lake Erie. About 27 miles of U.S. and Canadian shoreline were affected.

The Rouge was closed for several days while crews skimmed the oil off the water and cleaned the shorelines. Cleanup costs were more than $2 million.

EPA officials have said the April spill is the largest in the Great Lakes in the last 12 years. In 1990, a tanker exploded on the Saginaw River in Bay City, spilling at least 10,000 gallons of gasoline, EPA officials said.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, whose district includes Dearborn, said in a statement late Tuesday that he heard from officials that the investigation into the oil spill "is accelerating and that search warrants have been executed."

"I am fully confident that investigators will identify and prosecute the perpetrators of this environmental catastrophe," Dingell said.

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