UPDATE: US 41 in Hancock remains closed due to fuel spill

Copper Country

UPDATE 6/26/2021 10:00 AM- Highway 41 in Hancock is now open to through traffic. Drivers are still asked to take caution with construction and work vehicles in the area where the spill occurred. Ethel Avenue remains closed near Hwy 41 at least for today until crews finish flushing the storm sewer.

UPDATE 6/25/2021 5:45 PM – Absorbent boom material is around the outlet of the storm sewer line into the portage canal. Petroleum in the boom area has been and will continue to be safely removed for disposal. The gasoline sheen on the water has been monitored since noon on Thursday, June 24 by air, via drone and plane, and by water via boat. Air monitoring has been conducted along the shorelines.

Ongoing monitoring of the sheen has shown that it has been naturally dissipating over the last 24 hours especially east of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. The EPA and EGLE recommend that monitoring of the gasoline sheen continues as the sunlight aids in it’s evaporation. Depending on the weather, that is expected to continue into next week. The gasoline sheen cannot be removed with mechanical methods of surface recovery used with heavier oils. Chemical methods of removing the gasoline are prohibited on the Great Lakes.

The EPA has been overseeing and conducting air monitoring, they say all levels in the community are safe. Gasoline compounds only continue to be found in storm drains and work areas.

Additionally, the WUPHD, in conjunction with the EPA, EGLE and MDHHS, have updated the public health advisory for the Portage Canal. The public is advised to avoid any areas with visible fuel sheen but may use the canal for recreational boating, fishing and body contact swimming.

No update has been given for when Highway 41 may reopen and the public is still advised to avoid the area of the spill due to heavy equipment operating in the area if possible.

UPDATE 6/25/2021 8:17 AM – According to the Hancock Fire Department detours remain in place for traffic traveling along Highway 41 in Hancock.

The roadway is still being remediated and replaced and they hope that it will reopen Saturday. Detours remain in place for through traffic. Northbound traffic should follow M-203 toward McLain State Park and southbound traffic is asked to take Airport Park Road through Dollar Bay. This is especially true for tractor-trailers. Local traffic is open and White Street in Hancock is currently open to two-way traffic. The Tire Shop is now accessible again via North Ethel Avenue.

Hancock Fire Department says drinking water has been and continues to be safe, although beaches along the Portage Lake Shipping Canal will remain closed until further notice. Due to the petroleum release and heavy equipment in the area now, residents are asked to avoid the area if possible.

Another update is expected to be released when the roadway is reopened.

UPDATED 6/24/2021 AT 10:39 PM – The tanker was emptied of the remaining 1,960 gallons of gasoline late in the morning and U.P. environmental services of Bark river arrived on the scene around 4:00 P.M. to remove the remaining gasoline standing on the corner. The gasoline had been kept on the corner by berms built by the Hancock Fire Department, Hancock Department of Public Works, Superior Sand and Gravel and B&B Construction.

The tanker was returned upright and removed from the scene around 5:00 P.M. At this time, air monitoring was also being done by Mannik & Smith Group and TriMedia Environmental and Engineering, which will continue for a few days, and the Hancock fire Department lifted the evacuation order allowing residents to return home.

The Western U.P. Health Department provided printed guidance to residents that reoccupied their homes with assistance from the Hancock Fire Department. Detours remained in place at this time and residents were asked to avoid the area due to the petroleum release and heavy equipment operation.


UPDATED 6/24/2021 AT 3:37 PM – The Hancock Fire Department provided the following information about the fuel spill at Santorini’s Corner:

  • At 8:00 A.M. a gasoline tanker tipped on US Highway 41 at the corner of Ethel Ave known as Santori’s Corner. Gasoline immediately started spilling out of the tanker. No injuries were caused by the accident and drinking water was not affected.
  • The Western U.P. Health Department worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to issue a public health advisory for the Portage Canal near Houghton and Hancock for fuel that was dishcarged into the waterway.
  • Evacuations took place in West Hancock from Santori’s corner on South Lincoln Drive (Hwy 41) to Michgian Street, Michigan Street to Elm Street and down to the Jutila Center, and Minnesota and Ohio Streets between Ethel Avenue and Michigan street.
  • Through traffic at this time was still detoured, especially for tractor-trailers. Local traffic was open and White Street in Hancock was open to two-way traffic.
  • The EPA, EGLE and Region 8 Hazmat Team were all on sight advising on cleanup efforts. Various contractors were also on site or en route for cleanup efforts.
  • Residents were advised to avoid the area if possible due to the petroleum release and heavy equipment operation.

HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) – The City of Hancock posted on their Facebook page asking people to avoid travel along Lincoln Drive.

A fuel spill occurred on the corner of South Lincoln Street and Ethel Avenue. Crews are working to clear the area and will reopen the road when it is safe to do so. City crews and the Hancock Fire Department are working there currently.

Homes in the area are being evacuated to Church of the Resurrection located at 900 Quincy Street in Hancock. Persons in the area will be notified if they are in the zone that needs to evacuate.

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