Levels of heavy metals have reproduced in water samples being conducted along the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek nearly a year after an oil pipeline burst in the local area spilling an estimated one million gallons of oil into the waterways.
“What we do see are elevated levels in areas of contamination that exceed some of the state’s criteria for groundwater and surface water criteria,” said a MDEQ official whose name was not clear in a recording of the press call with federal and state officials updating about the oil spill recovery work.
The official noted the department was continuing to monitor for several heavy metals including mercury and nickel.
“Those compounds were all found in the original crude oil that was released, which is why we’re monitoring for them,” he said.
Mark Durno, the EPA’s deputy on-scene incident commander, said officials had not considered heavy metal testing until last summer when Michigan Messenger made inquiries related to the heavy metal contamination of tar sands oils.
“We had this exact same question back in August of last year. So we, at the reporters’ request, did some background checks into the actual oil that was released.” said Durno. “We collected analytical samples of the oil that was released to see what metals were present and compared it with what we were seeing in the sediment at the time and in the water column at the time. And we did see some low levels of mercury and nickel — which is what we expected to see, actually.”