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Concerns are still bubbling to the surface in the wake of an oil spill three months ago near Onekama, MI.

Some of those concerns ended up addressed Thursday night in Manistee County, MI. It all began when Merit Energy discovered oil leaking into a wetland on 8 Mile Rd. near Onekama three months ago.

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On Thursday, officials from the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) met with the public for the first time since the incident was reported.

“There’s a lot of concerned citizens that were here and I think everybody had some very good questions,” said Don Koon, who lives next to the oil spill area.

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The DEQ and the Little Manistee River Watershed Conservation Council addressed the concerned crowd that lives near the contaminated area.

“I don’t think you are monitoring wells both near and far enough,” one woman said.

“How will I know when it’s not good? Will you come around and tell me right away?” Questioned another.

About 50 barrels of oil spilled over roughly half an acre.

Senior DEQ geologist Bob Versical said the response was immediate.
“Since they initiated pumping, we had samples yesterday and we’ve seen 99.6 percent reduction in our influent pump groundwater concentrations so, again, very good progress,” Versical said.

However, he said it is slow going.

“They are pumping water out and they are running it through carbon filtration systems,” Versical said. “It’s highly-organic soil, which really binds up those petroleum compounds. It’s a degree of stickiness, if you will.”

Others worried their drinking water suffered from the spill.

“For all intents and purposes, I don’t think this is going to make it 200 feet from the release point,” Versical said. So, DEQ said that is not a concern.

Merit Energy was also reportedly invited to the meeting — but declined.

For now, the DEQ continues to monitor the area.

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