Precautionary Portage Canal and beach closure due to fuel spill discharge

Copper Country

photo from City of Hancock Facebook page

HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) – The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) is issuing a public health advisory for the Portage Canal near Houghton and Hancock due to a fuel spill that discharged to Portage Canal in Houghton County.

A fuel tanker truck overturned on U.S. Hwy-41, also known as Lincoln Drive, near the corner of Ethel Ave, Santori’s Corner in Hancock. The incident released gasoline to the ground surface. Fuel discharged to a storm drain that outlets to the Portage Canal. The entire Portage Canal, including public access beaches and boat launches, are currently closed for recreational boating and body contact due to a concern for exposure to benzene due to inhalation and skin contact.

Residents near the spill have been evacuated temporarily due to safety concerns. The public should avoid the affected area at the spill site and to avoid using the Portage Canal for recreation. People and pets should not come in direct contact or swallow lake water in this area, especially if fuel is visible on the water surface. Do not use surface water for any drinking purposes and if you smell fuel, move away from the area.

This is an ongoing emergency situation. Updates will be issued as additional information becomes
available.

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