Hazardous Chemical Spill Into Saint Marys River

By Eric Clabaugh

June 18, 2010 Updated Feb 2, 2009 at 7:16 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind (Indiana's NewsCenter)-It could take months to clean up and the environmental impact won't be known for a while.
Crews continue cleaning the Saint Mary's river following a toxic spill that happened about a week and a half ago.

Is there any risk to residents?

According to local and state officials, there is no risk and that's why they say only a few were notified of the toxic spill.
But they say they will keep an eye on air quality until the clean up process is complete.

300 gallons of hazardous chemicals entered the Saint Mary's on January 23rd after a machine at the Essex Group plant on Wall Street malfunctioned. Officials say three chemicals spilled into the river. Phenol and Cresylic Acid, both of which can cause severe burns and petroleum distillates, which is toxic and flammable.
Crews have been cutting and removing chunks of ice where the contamination occurred doing their best to keep it contained.
How will this spill impact the environment?

Amber Finkelstein says the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is "Still investigating. Because the Saint Mary's is frozen over, it's very difficult to establish what the environmental impact has been. It has been very difficult to contain and clean up the spill."

IDEM officials say the clean up process may take a while, considering the Saint Mary's river is frozen.

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