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Algoma Steel will foot the spill bill to send clean water to downstream community

Steel CEO admits company didn’t ‘live up to the high standard we set for ourselves’
Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie (File photo)

The new CEO of Algoma Steel, Michael Garcia, vows his company will strive to do better on the environmental front.

The Sault Ste. Marie steel producer issued an update on June 17 regarding the company’s accidental release of lubricant oil into the St. Mary’s River on June 9.

“This event certainly did not live up to the high standard we set for ourselves,” said Garcia in a company news release.

“I assure you the entire Algoma team has felt the weight of this incident’s impact on our community. We are focused on mitigating any possible impact and are grateful for the collaboration with all parties involved as we work together to do what needs to be done to protect the environment.”

The spill was contained but the incident temporary halted commercial shipping traffic in the channel between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. It  resulted in a state of emergency in Echo Bay, a downstream community, which was forced to close its municipal water intake system, and raised concerns with the leadership from nearby Garden River First Nation.

“We are maintaining an open dialogue with our stakeholders and have extended an offer to the Village of Echo Bay to cover the cost of purchasing and transporting water to their community on an interim basis,” the company said in a release.
SooToday reported earlier that the substance was Morgoil, a lubricating fluid used in heavy machinery. 

The initial estimate by the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault, Michigan was that more than 20,000 litres of oil had spilled in the river.

Algoma now responds that the estimate amount of oil discharged into the river from its water treatment plant was in between 1,000 litres (263 gallons) and 1,250 litres (330 gallons), based on their findings through technical advisors and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.

Algoma hasn’t disclosed the cause of the spill on its property but maintains they will put the “appropriate controls to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.”

The steelmaker said it continues to work with authorities to mitigate any impact to the environment. While the oil sheen in the river has dissipated, the company said, and is no longer visible, the company said it will continue to conduct a sampling and monitoring program in the river.