State health officials say there is no long term harm to people who may have come in contact with chemicals in surface water during recreational activities, such as wading, swimming, or canoeing along the stretch of the Kalamazoo River impacted by the July 2010 oil spill in Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.
However, the Michigan Department of Community Health says the final public health assessment found that contact with oil sheen and globules in the river may cause temporary effects, such as skin irritation. The ban against recreational use of the river in those areas where the water was tainted by spilled oil was lifted in June of 2012.
The study tested water safety following the devastating spill when Canadian pipeline company Enbridge leaked a million gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Fish from the Kalamazoo River and Morrow Lake were tested for oil-related chemicals, as well as chemicals that were previously found in fish there.
Fish from areas impacted by the oil spill, including Ceresco Impoundment and Morrow Lake, had similar levels of oil-related chemicals as fish caught in Marshall Pond, upstream of the spill.
All oil-related chemical levels were very low. Mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels were similar to levels measured in fish caught before the oil spill. Guidelines for eating fish from these areas, issued by the department before the oil spill, remain in place.