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 Office Macomb County Public Works Office representatives place containment booms Jan. 3 at the Schoenherr Relief Drain and the Red Run, near 14 Mile and Schoenherr roads in Sterling Heights.

Office Macomb County Public Works Office representatives place containment booms Jan. 3 at the Schoenherr Relief Drain and the Red Run, near 14 Mile and Schoenherr roads in Sterling Heights.

Photo provided by the Macomb County Public Works


Officials search for source of petroleum leak into relief drain, Clinton River

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published January 6, 2020 | Updated January 6, 2020 3:33pm

 A large amount of petroleum product was spotted in the drain.

A large amount of petroleum product was spotted in the drain.

Photo provided by the Macomb County Public Works Office

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MACOMB COUNTY — The Macomb County Public Works Office said Jan. 4 that the search for the source of a petroleum spill into the Schoenherr Relief Drain in Warren, and subsequently into the Clinton River, is still ongoing.

MCPWO officials said the leak was originally cited the morning of Jan. 3 by a resident along the Clinton River, near Budd Park in Clinton Township. That individual reportedly noticed a sheen moving down the river, leading to an immediate investigation and response.

“Thanks to a concerned citizen, we were able to catch this flow of petroleum before the bulk of it made it to Lake St. Clair,” Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said in a press release. “We are all one big watershed, and all the storm water in the metro area runs out to Lake St. Clair or other parts of the Great Lakes Basin. We all have to work together to prevent pollution from entering the lakes.”

Personnel from fire departments and public works offices in Clinton Township, Sterling Heights and Warren assisted the MCPWO Jan. 3 to track the source of the sheen back to the Schoenherr Relief Drain, near 14 Mile and Schoenherr roads.

That drain, according to the MCPWO, “is a large, underground storm drain that travels south (to) north under Schoenherr Road, from Nine Mile Road to just north of 14 Mile Road.” It enters the Red Run, which then enters the Clinton River and eventually transports water out to Lake St. Clair.

The office estimated “between 75 and 100 gallons” of petroleum entered the drain, causing containment booms to be put in place. It was believed that petroleum in that relief drain came from a fuel storage tank of some sort, due to the volume of material in the drain.

On Jan. 4, investigators made “several manned entries” into the underground drain in question in Warren. The absorbent booms were to remain in place until the water runs clear of all petroleum.

Miller vowed that whoever is responsible for the leak will be held accountable, saying “the day where (polluting the lake) was acceptable is over and the conversation has changed.”

That includes recouping costs and taking “other actions” as necessary, she added.

“This incident shows how all of our storm water drains are part of one larger system,” she said. “Here’s a spill that happened in Warren and was seen in the river some five or 10 miles away, on the way out to Lake St. Clair.

“We appreciate the responsible citizens who alert us to these incidents. We continue to be vigilant and make inspections of our drains, but we also rely on our good neighbors for assistance in sounding the alarm when there is a problem.”

The office issued another update Jan. 6, saying that “water was running mostly clear from the drain.” However, some residual petroleum was still seen in the water. The source was still undiscovered.

The MCPWO maintains a 24-hour pollution notification number at (877) 679-4337.

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