Fuel leak in Grand Lake is still under EGLE investigation

News Photo by Mike Gonzalez A Premium Hydro Solution truck is parked on Wednesday in front of the house on Grand Lake Boulevard that had the heating fuel spill on Feb. 3.

ALPENA — Heating fuel for a home on Grand Lake started leaking into the body of water earlier this month, leading to a still-ongoing investigation and cleanup of the spill by The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The homeowner is a seasonal resident who had winterized the property and was not present for the leak; however, EGLE was contacted by a neighboring house on the weekend of Feb. 2 through the department’s Pollution Emergency Alerting System with a message saying that a liquid from his neighbor’s house was running off into Grand Lake and discolored the ice. Environment officials responded soon afterward.

According to Jill Greenberg, a spokesperson and public information officer at EGLE, the storage tank housing the heating fuel has a capacity between 300 to 500 gallons, but the homeowner said that it was last filled three years ago.

“Our people went out on the lake with chainsaws and cut through the ice,” Greenberg said. “We put down an observant barrier and some booms to keep the fuel from going anywhere else. The leak is stopped and we’re not seeing a lot of product on the water now after cleaning it up.”

By Feb. 6, EGLE contacted District Health Department No. 4 Environmental Health Director Kevin Prevost to check if the homeowner’s or neighbor’s well water was contaminated by the pollutant.

According to Prevost, officials found heating fuel in the soil surrounding the leak site, but test results showed that the neighbor’s drinking water was not impacted. Since the seasonal resident’s property is winterized right now, the Health Department is not able to get a sample of their water until the home’s systems are running again in the spring.

“In northern Alpena County and in Presque Isle County, there’s a lot of limestone towards the surface,” Prevost said. “And so, with limestone, there’s a lot of fractures and other things that can happen from a drinking water and preventative standpoint. We pulled a lot of the well logs for that area and there seems to be a fair amount of protection of the water aquifer that they’re drawn out of, which is also good because sometimes there’s very little protective soil over the limestone.”

According to Greenberg, the state government is paying for cleanup services.

Some of the fuel also spilled around the residence, so contaminated soil around the affected area is currently getting excavated and any other observed product is being removed.

“We’ll see how everything shakes out,” Prevost said. “By the time things start to melt and there’s runoff everywhere, the fuel may not be visible anymore and we’ll have to see how everything ends up. One good thing that happened was that it was winter and that ice, I think, held some of this back.”


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