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Hemlock MI Oil Spill

Site Contact:
Jon Gulch
On-Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
16675 Gratiot Road
Hemlock, MI 48626
NRC#: 1388099

January 26, 2024
A temporary access road is being placed along the north side of the railroad ditch in preparation for the excavation of impacted material. Pumping from the source area ditch and maintenance of the McClellan Run dam area continues. An additional storm sewer with pump was discovered on the west side of the site, which will be investigated for oil contamination when weather conditions allow. Two roll-off dumpsters with oil-impacted debris were transported off-site for disposal. To date, approximately 2,500-gallons of oil have been recovered and disposed of off-site from the railroad ditch and the North Branch of McClellan Run.

January 13-24, 2024
Due to continued snow accumulation and freezing temperatures, cleanup operations were suspended with minimal on-site activities. EPA's contractor manually checked and replaced the absorbent materials along the ditch, as needed. The dam in the North Branch of McClellan Run and the on-site waste staging areas are observed daily.

January 12, 2024
The responsible party mobilized a contractor to clean up newly discovered oil on the surface of the parking lot near the on-site staging area. The area will continue to be monitored for surfacing oil and continued migration to the on-site storm sewer system.

EPA constructed an underflow dam in the North Branch of McClellan Run that will stop the flow of oil to McClellan Run. The oil will accumulate on the surface behind the dam for recovery and clean water will continue to flow downstream. 

January 11, 2024
Sample results indicate the oil present in the railroad ditch is the same oil that was discharged from the on-site storm sewer system on the responsible party's property. All samples contained slightly to moderately weathered light fuel oil mixed with lubricating oil that were derived from a common source petroleum oil.

EPA observed pockets of oil surfacing in the parking lot staging area on the responsible party's property. The oil is coming from under the newly placed gravel fill material in the parking lot and spreading throughout the area. The oil appears to be surfacing due to recent precipitation at the site.

January 7-10, 2024
Cleanup activities continued in the impacted areas along the railroad ditch and the North Branch of McClellan Run. Oil recovered from the impacted ditch areas is stored in three 20,000-gallon FRAC tanks that are staged on-site. The oil absorbent booms and pads are being collected and staged in two on-site 20,000-cubic yard roll-off boxes. EPA received access rights to construct a temporary road along the North Branch of McClellan Run. The temporary road will facilitate the cleanup activities along the waterway.

January 6, 2024
EPA contractors used two vacuum trucks to remove visible oil from the railroad ditch and from the North Branch of McClellan Run and conducted cleanup of several oil-impacted areas along the ditch. Absorbent oil booms and padding were placed in the oil-impacted areas of the ditch and near contaminated soils. After coordinating temporary access with the railroad, a portion of the railway was closed during the day for cleanup operations. One of the vacuum trucks was moved along the railroad tracks to assist in removing oil contamination along the railroad ditch. Soil and water samples from the impacted areas were collected and sent to a lab for analysis.

On January 3, 2024, waste oil was discovered in a county drainage ditch adjacent to the C&J Bark Haulers facility in Hemlock, MI.  The oil flowed through the county drainage ditch which leads to Swan Creek, the Shiawassee River and eventually the Saginaw River. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) requested EPA assistance on this incident. Sorbent boom, essentially pads to absorb oil, was placed in Swan Creek by the local fire department. EPA arrived to the site to conduct documentation, air monitoring and sampling. EPA removed the oil from the waterways. EPA will continue to coordinate with local and state officials and the potentially responsible party.