DPW Director Explains Chemical Spill at Abbott Woods

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Alice Dreger for ELi

Workers from USIC on Abbott Woods Dr. on the morning of Feb. 5, 2021.

A special environmental clean-up will be happening at Abbott Woods, an East Lansing condominium complex just off Abbot Road, following an accidental chemical spill, according to Scott House, Director of East Lansing’s Department of Public Works (DPW).

The problem started on New Years Eve when, according to House, a City of East Lansing “sanitation truck had a hydraulic oil leak on a private street in Abbott Woods.” The truck was there because the City provides residential curbside collection service to that neighborhood.

“DPW crews responded and performed clean-up operations,” said House. “Despite these efforts, hydraulic fluid entered the private storm system.”

DPW got a call about it from the Abbott Woods Association on January 29 of this year, advising of “reported discolored snow in their on-site stormwater retention basin,” according to House. “DPW staff took a grab sample the same day and found what appeared to be hydraulic fluid, which was subsequently confirmed by lab testing.”

Now the City is working on getting “an emergency abatement contractor to clean the detention pond, storm infrastructure and to perform any necessary remediation to soils.”

According to House, “The residual hydraulic oil is contained on-site in the detention basin” of the condo association.

The Abbott Woods complex is located just west of Abbot Road about one-third of a mile north of Saginaw St.

Workers from the firm USIC, a utility contractor, could be seen working in the area this morning, but the clean-up won’t get started for a while because of the cold weather creating challenges. House says he anticipates the private contractor starting work the week of Feb. 15.

ELi learned of this spill on a tip from City employees. If you have a tip you want to share with ELi, you can always contact us, including anonymously, via our contact page

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