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Crews expect to ramp up Flint River spill cleanup this weekend

Booms catching oily substance in Flint River
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Booms catching the petroleum-based substance in the Flint River.

Spill containment and cleanup operations along the Flint River are expected to ramp up this weekend.

Since Wednesday, crews have collected roughly 5,000 gallons of a petroleum-based substance along a 20 mile stretch of the river in Genesee County.

Donald Simota is with Michigan Spill Response. He said the work on the river will pick up over the next few days.

“We want to get above this. Get ahead of it,” said Simota. “Yes, we are going to ramp up.”

Federal and state environmental agencies are investigating the spill.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said on Friday that tests have confirmed Lockhart Chemical Company is the source of the spill. In a statement, EGLE said, "As the responsible party, Lockhart is required to undertake and fund cleanup and remedial actions. The company has agreed to accept responsibility."

EGLE said drinking water is not affected because there are no drinking water intakes on the Flint River.

Officials said the spill appears to only have affected a small percentage of the wildlife in the river.

However, local health officials are warning residents to avoid the portion of the Flint River affected by the spill.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.