Fines, Cleanup Costs for MI Oil Spill

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 @ 11:02 AM gHale

In addition to paying $65,000 in fines and cleanup costs associated with a May 2014 oil spill in the Grand River, a Jackson, MI, company is working to make sure a similar accident doesn’t happen again, state officials said.

About 800 gallons of liquid including motor oil and hydraulic fluid ended up cleaned from the Grand River over the course of two days in May. The source of the spill later traced back to Industrial Steel Treating Co., 613 Carroll Ave.

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An investigation concluded the incident was accidental and the company did not incur penalties from the city. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) wasn’t as foregiving.

The company had to pay a $5,000 fine and “improve their procedures,” said DEQ spokesman Jeff Surfus.

“They have strengthened their work approval requirements and inspection schedules,” he said. “In addition … they are replacing some of the old coolers and placing them indoors and adding spill containment around the outdoor coolers that remain.”

City officials said their investigation found company employees were performing maintenance work on coolers outside their building May 16. The employees didn’t put the cooler back together properly and the oil and hydraulic fluid leaked out.

Company employees did not realize the oil had traveled across the sidewalk before running into a catch basin until they heard about oil found in the Grand River.

The company had to pay for all of the costs associated with the cleanup efforts, which came to $60,000, said Todd Knepper, Jackson Department of Public Works Director. City officials originally estimated the cleanup costs would come to $20,000.

“It was quite a bit more than we originally anticipated,” Knepper said.

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