Nearly 100-year-old underground tank the source of spill into Huron River in Flat Rock

Posted at 6:34 AM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 07:57:06-05

(WXYZ) — There are new developments coming in about a mysterious chemical spill in Flat Rock that happened nearly two weeks ago.

The fuel-like substance was found in a backchannel to the Huron River, and it's now been linked to an underground tank owned by a metal company.

The tank they found is nearly 100 years old, and the state and EPA are investigating. This all began 11 days ago after a fisherman found and reported what looked & smelled like fuel in the Huron River.

People in Flat Rock are still talking about the spill, and the closure of Huroc Park due to the spill.

"With the park closed, there's nothing to do. People aren't walking, jogging or riding their bikes," Steve Marzouq, the owner of Wimpy's Burgers, said.

The town brought in underground radar to find the source of the problem. What they found was a massive tank capable of holding up to 10,000 gallons of fuel.

"Flat Rock Metal has been an open book ever since we got there. They let us into the catacombs & basements," Mayor Mark Hammond said.

While it might be a problem for wildlife, Hammond said people are not in any danger.

This comes months after a gas leak from the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

Flat Rock Metal released a statement which reads, "At Flat Rock Metal, safety and quality, in every respect, are our top priorities. When we found out about the possibility of oil in the river, we committed to solving that mystery. What we discovered was an underground fuel oil storage tank, beneath the property where we have been located since the 1980s. It dates back far as 100 years, to when this was a factory-built, owned, and operated by Ford. We had no record of the tank, nor did the State of Michigan. Our company did not and could not have created any issues with this hidden tank. Now, all we can do is address the tank and contain and dispose of any fuel oil that was in it."

Ford has also issued a response. It reads, "We're hearing this for the first time and don't know whether any of it's accurate. Ford's involvement with this site ended more than 70 years ago. We understand there have been at least two owners since then."