DETROIT -- Investigators
are edging closer to discovering the source of a massive
spill on the Rouge and Detroit rivers after locating a second
sewer line with traces of oil.
Samples from a Detroit location have been
sent to a lab in search of chemical fingerprints to determine
if the oily mixture matches the industrial-grade oil discharged
into the Rouge River on April 9, said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hall,
a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.
Contaminants were taken from the sewer
on Ford Road last week. "There shouldn't be oil in the sewer,"
The first remnants of oil were found in
a large storm sewer three weeks ago in Dearborn on Wyoming
near Michigan Avenue. Investigators are analyzing approximately
2,000 gallons of oil pumped from the site.
Whether the oil dumping was done deliberately
or accidental remains unclear.
"We can't say anything conclusive concerning
some of our findings yet," Hall said. "But we haven't been
able to tie the spill to a specific facility."
Authorities have taken oil samples from
local industry in the effort to find the oil's origin. They
already have ruled out vessels on the river as a possible
Hall said there are hundreds of miles
of combined sewer and pipe systems to comb through so it
could take another month to find the culprit. In the meantime,
investigators are literally overturning every manhole from
Detroit to Dearborn in search of more evidence, he said.
"It would be nice if they found out who
did this like yesterday," said Doug Walker of Dearborn.
"There is no telling how much our wildlife will be affected
in the long run."
Up to 45,000 gallons of oil have been
recovered from the rivers, according to Hall, with cleanup
efforts costing about $3 million.
The oil dumper could end up paying for
cleaning and fines of up to $25,000 a day.
But a federal bill introduced by U.S.
Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Dearborn, to prevent future spills
may double fines if the "Polluter Accountability Act" is
passed by Congress.
While the community waits for someone
to be brought to justice, Hall hopes residents can take
some solace in knowing that the bulk of oil has been removed,
leaving only minor shoreline cleaning.
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