HANCOCK, Mich (WJMN) – The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD), working in
conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Environment, Great
Lakes, and Energy, and the Department of Health and Human Services has updated the public health
advisory for the Portage Canal following the recent fuel spill in the City of Hancock.
The Portage Canal may reopen for recreational boating, fishing, and body contact swimming as long as the public avoids any areas with visible fuel sheen. Sheen can be described as a rainbow-like discoloration on the
surface of the water. Sheen location may quickly change along with shifts in wind and weather.
Recreational use is not recommended for the following areas due to the current visible presence of fuel
Hancock Waterfront – Between the release site (below the Jutila Center) east to Mill Street and from
the lift bridge east to the National Historical Park smelter site.
Houghton Waterfront – Directly across from the release site (below the Jutila Center) extending all the
way east to Lake Street (near Super 8). This includes the Kestner Waterfront Park Beach area.
WUPHD advises that direct exposure of the eyes, skin and respiratory tract to fuel sheen can cause
tissue injury and irritation; therefore, the public, including pets, should avoid swimming and recreation
in these areas.
All other areas on the Portage Canal may reopen to body contact as long as no visible
fuel sheen is present. Updates will be issued as additional information becomes available.
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