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Public Comment Requested on Public Health Assessment of Drinking Water Wells Along Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2012

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released a draft Public Health Assessment evaluating groundwater used as residential drinking water along the stretch of the Kalamazoo River impacted by the July 2010 oil spill in Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties. MDCH has concluded that there is no harmful exposure of oil-related chemicals in wells used for drinking water.

Oil-related organic chemicals were not detected in samples taken from wells used for drinking water. Two oil-related inorganic chemicals, iron and nickel, were detected in a few wells, but not at levels that would be expected to cause health effects. Iron and nickel are naturally occurring and have been found before in wells from Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.

Arsenic and lead, which were not in the crude oil of the spill, were found in some wells at levels that could cause health effects after long-term exposure. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal and lead could be naturally occurring or be present in residential plumbing. The Calhoun County Health Department and Kalamazoo County's Health and Community Services Department, and state agencies Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and MDCH, are available to discuss water sampling results and ways to reduce exposure to these chemicals with residents.

MDCH invites the public to read the Public Health Assessment available at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/Enbridge_drinking_water_public_comment_5-17-2012_385935_7.pdf. Copies also are available at the following locations: 

  • Marshall District Library, 124 W. Green St., Marshall 
  • Willard Library, 7 W. Van Buren St., Battle Creek 
  • Galesburg Memorial Library, 188 E. Michigan Ave., Galesburg

Information and comments may be sent to Dr. Jennifer Gray, Division of Environmental Health, Michigan Department of Community Health, 201 Townsend St., Lansing, MI, 48913.

Comments on the Public Health Assessment must be received by July 25, 2012. Responses to all comments will be provided in the final version of the assessment.

The department's Division of Environmental Health conducted this Public Health Assessment as part of a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Information concerning the human health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants can be found on the ATSDR web page: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp.

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