Menomonee River oil spill causes issues for Milwaukee waterways | WUWM 89.7 FM

Final week, phrase unfold {that a} regarding quantity of oil had made its means into the Menomonee River.

It was later realized that Komatsu, the mining firm, had discharged 400 gallons of used oil via a stormwater outfall close to the corporate’s Menomonee Valley website.

The outfall empties straight into the river.

Whereas Komatsu has taken accountability for the spill and the clear up, some fear about eradicating the oil. There are additionally issues about its potential impression on the river and the life in and round it.

That features issues from Milwaukee Riverkeeper Cheryl Nenn. She stood alongside the Menomonee River Friday, simply east of the Brewers’ stadium, and seemed straight into the storm sewer that delivered the equal of eight 50-gallon drums of oil into the river one week earlier.

“We’re east of the American Household stadium and simply south of the pedestrian bridge that most individuals use to stroll to video games,” Nenn stated. “We’re just a few miles upstream from the confluence with the Milwaukee River…the [spilled] oil is all the best way down from this website via the decrease Menomonee and has unfold in a fairly large part of the Milwaukee River.”

If anybody is aware of Milwaukee’s rivers, it’s Nenn. Her job title is riverkeeper and she or he coordinates ongoing water high quality monitoring on the Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic and Menomonee rivers.

When individuals discover one thing bizarre occurring, they usually name Nenn. This spill was no completely different.

“We truly began getting calls on Monday [Dec. 6] about oil sheen on the Milwaukee River and labored with the Metropolis of Milwaukee,” Nenn stated. “And taking a look at stormwater pipes and went to look to see if oil was coming from tour boats which can be nonetheless within the water…there aren’t many boats left within the water.”

Nenn stated it wasn’t instantly clear the place the spill began, due to Lake Michigan’s affect.

“The lake is commonly pushing water upstream. If the wind is coming from the east or northeast, you get form of this sloshing forwards and backwards of the lake and primarily based on the wind, you will get fairly a major present that pushes upstream,” Nenn stated.

On this case, the lake is pushing spilled oil with it.

Komatsu issued a launch stating that on Friday, December 3, saying “our employees….turned conscious of what we thought at the moment was a comparatively small spill of waste oil from a container.” Clear up procedures, the assertion continues, started instantly and Komatsu reported to the regional EPA workplace and the Wisconsin Division of Pure Sources.

An company spokesperson stated the DNR obtained notification on December 4 “of a petroleum sheen on the Menomonee River.“

The DNR stated Komatsu has employed environmental response firms to carry out cleanup on its behalf.

A Komatsu spokesperson advised WUWM the corporate “instantly started cleanup upon turning into conscious of the spill” and that clear up consists of vacuuming oil.

Cheryl Nenn worries time and climate are working towards cleanup.

“I had heard boats can be on the river [Thursday] and didn’t see any. However I’m guessing they’re going to want to get out onto the river with some form of tools that may vacuum that oil up as a result of I don’t assume absorbent pads and different issues will most likely work very properly at this level.” Nenn stated.

WUWM’s Susan Bence and Nenn checked out some absorbent materials included into the growth that stretches throughout the outfall the place the spill met the river.

Susan Bence

Photograph taken December 10 of growth on the stormwater outfall the place the oil entered the Menomonee River. Cheryl Nenn says a crew had changed the growth at some point earlier.

“I can inform right here — there’s oil getting previous the growth, sadly. They did exchange this yesterday, we had been out right here, and so they put a brand new one in. The issue is, it is very onerous to cope with most of these spills, which is why prevention is essential,” Nenn stated.

Nenn worries about speedy impacts to birds and waterfowl.

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Milwaukee Riverkeeper

This oil-covered goose was discovered close to Metropolis Lights Brewing downstream from the spill website.

“There was a narrative within the [Journal] Sentinel a couple of snowy owl that was lined in oil, which I’m pretty assured got here into contact with this product and we did discover just a few geese yesterday that had been lined with oil. I used to be right here yesterday and there have been a bunch of mallards enjoying in that again water, they like sort of gradual water. I used to be attempting to clap and shoo them away and so they principally ignored me,” Nenn defined.

Nenn stated there’s far more to be realized, together with precisely what sort and the way a lot oil was spilled. Regardless of the unknowns, the riverkeeper fears the ripple results of oil that makes its means all the way down to the river’s backside of the meals chain.

“We’re undoubtedly involved about long-term impacts to the macroinvertebrates, the little critters on the underside of the river, and the fish and the birds and people consuming the fish,” Nenn stated.

She stated anglers love this stretch of the Menomonee.

“In the event you come out right here within the spring and fall, there’s usually dozens of fishermen lined up in right here catching salmon and trout,” Nenn stated.

After the preliminary dialog with Nenn, a few issues occurred.

nenn 7.jpeg

Riverkeeper Cheryl Nenn says oil has made its means into artifical nooks and crannies alongside the river, locations the place birds and waterfowl usually search shelter through the winter.

A Komatsu consultant had a prolonged dialog with Nenn’s boss, Jennifer Bolger Breceda, inviting Milwaukee Riverkeeper to supply enter all through the cleanup course of. The corporate pledged to cowl harm prices and improve monitoring efforts.

Later, wind and rain buffeted the area, thwarting clear up efforts some imagine ought to have come sooner.

Have an environmental query you need WUWM’s Susan Bence to research? Submit beneath. (If the module is not showing, please refresh the web page.)

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