'A Significant Spill': Diesel Leaked Into Drain Connecting To Clinton River

WWJ News
August 12, 2020 - 2:02 pm
fuel spill Sterling Heights

A crew from Doetsch Environmental Services begins the cleanup of approximately 1,800 feet of a sewer in Sterling Heights after a significant spill of diesel fuel was tracked to that area. (Photo: Macomb Co. Public Works)


(WWJ) There's a cleanup effort underway in Sterling Heights, after officials say fuel leaked into a drain that connects to the Clinton River. 

According to the Macomb County Public Works Office, a disabled truck apparently leaked a "significant" but unspecified amount of diesel fuel into a sewer without notification to authorities.

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The spill was discovered Tuesday morning by a construction contractor that noticed an oily sheen while working near Dodge Park Road, north of 15 Mile Road, in the Sterling Relief Drain. Storm water in that east-west drain flows to the Red Run Drain, which connects to the Clinton River.

Public Works representatives immediately began working to try to find the origin of the spill, according to Public Works.

They determined diesel fuel got into the storm sewer on Stanley Drive, north of 15 Mile Road and east of Mound Road in Sterling Heights, leaving behind an approximately 80-foot-long stain spotted by a county Public Works construction engineer.

Officials checked nearby businesses and were told a tractor trailer had broken down in the street Mondaymorning. A truck repair company arrived to work on the rig, which was then driven or towed away that day after spilling diesel.

The firm that owns the truck and the name of the driver is unknown at this time, and officials say the name of the truck repair company has not been confirmed.

“This was a significant spill,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller in a statement. “I have a zero tolerance approach to contamination of our waterways. We will continue to investigate, but had those responsible for it contacted the city of Sterling Heights or the county immediately, action could have been taken much sooner to reduce damage to the environment. Accidents sometimes happen, but failure to report is not acceptable.”

A Macomb County Public Works construction inspector along with Sterling Heights DPW are at the origin of the spill on Stanley Drive as the cleaning of approximately 1,800 feet of city storm sewer began Wednesday morning. That work, conducted by Doetsch Environmental Services using a vactor truck, is expected to continue through at least Friday.

On Tuesday, the construction contractor that discovered the sheen notified the Public Works construction engineer who then contacted Doetsch Environmental Services. Doetsch Environmental placed containment booms to halt the spread of the fuel and help absorb some of it at newly constructed sump wells in the Sterling Relief Drain at Dodge Park Road. The company also placed additional booms in the drain, east of Schoenherr Road – approximately three miles from Stanley Drive -- and where yellowish fuel on the surface of storm water is held back. The odor of fuel was very prevalent there.

Public Works says additional booms to contain the further spread of the diesel and absorb as much as possible also were placed in a portion of the Red Run Drain just north of Metropolitan Parkway, west of Utica Road. Approximately one-quarter mile north is where the Red Run Drain meets the Clinton River, which flows into Lake St. Clair, but officials believe the booms stopped the diesel before it reached the river.