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    Posted July 21, 2010 by
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Track the oil disaster

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    Out of Sight - An ("Isolated") Oil Spill in Ann Arbor, Michigan



    turns out the spill was oil and phosphoric acid


    Update of story here:



    Something peculiar happened on the night of July 19th in Ann Arbor.  For about two hours, I was watching an oil-based substance flow down the Huron River from one particular spot.  It covered perhaps 90% of the entire width of the river and from my vantage point, the entire section that I was viewing of the river.  The next morning, I was unable to find it.  Was it out of sight, and truly out of mind?

    At about 7:15 on July 19th and for another 2 hours (until sunset), we noticed an oil/gas-based substance flowing down the Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  It went past the arboretum and made its way towards Gallup Park.  The previous Saturday afternoon we saw dozens of kayakers, tubers, swimmers, and people fishing along the river.  But, that night, we saw a kayak, 2 canoes, a bunch of worried looks, a dog swimming in the substance, and a lot of bewilderment.


    Later that night, storms rolled through Ann Arbor, and the river level on the Huron River rose.  According to the USGS, water flow was running at around 100-200 cfs earlier in the day, but at night it was fluctuating between 700 cfs and 1900 cfs.  The Ann Arbor Huron River gauge went from a height of 12 feet to 14.5 feet in a very short time.


    The next morning, I woke up and made my way to Gallup Park.  There was no sign of anything related to the spill from the previous night.  I saw nothing oil-based, but I thought I could still smell it from the night before.  I saw some Canadian geese, a few ducks and a deer.  I wondered, did they know what happened?  Did the sharp increase in water flows disperse whatever made its way down the river?  Where did the discharge come from?  Accident?  Illegal dumping?  How much entered the water?  (a 500 square meter spill just made national headlines in Canada).  How did it happen? Were the emergency crews able to work through the night and clean the spill?  (they would have had to have worked through the night to clean it up before the storms).  I don't know and today people will make their way and jog along the river, a few might canoe down it, and I'm not sure if anyone will even notice what happened the night before.  Is this a common occurrence on the river?  We hear about the huge spills, but are smaller spills like this quite common? Is it common on the Huron River?  In Michigan?  In the USA?  In Canada?  Is it out of sight?  Is it out of mind?


    Thumbs Up -- To the fast arrival time of the emergency personnel at the scene, and the coordinated effort of multiple departments (fire/police/etc).  They were working hard and their concern for the spill was quite evident by their expressions.


    Thumbs Down -- To however that spill got there.


    Something to improve on -- find the location of the spill and stop the source faster (the part of the spill entering the water).  this was not a 'trivial' small spill for this area.   it covered the width of the river, for at least 2 hours from my vantage point.


    Something odd -- If it wasn't for the rain storm that night (it swept the stuff further downstream)  the citizens of Ann Arbor would have awoken to a lot of oil/gas in the arboretum and it certainly would have made a bigger news headline.  (Hence... out of sight... out of mind?)



    Update -- 2 days later, I saw people fishing, swimming and kayaking through the area.  I have to wonder... do they know what went through and for how long it lasted?


    NOTE -- i don't like filing multiple I-Reports and talking about the same subject.  This topic appears multiple times as the other Ireports of the same topic ran into technical problems (with the ireport servers?).  And so I made this new version with smaller photos and no video.  Eventually, the other ireports were then accepted after they were rejected.


    About the photos:

    NOTE -- I tried uploading a few videos, but the ireport system was unable to process it.
    So... I'll include a few photos and give links to the videos


    There is a video here:



    and here:


    Also, here are smaller versions of some of the photos.

    First photos... something going down the river.  Note -- the darker spots indicate "clear" water.  The lighter, more dominant area has the slick.


    A photo of lightning going over Ann Arbor that night.


    Rest of photos... animals in Gallup Park (further down the river)... the next morning, July 20th.

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