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Recycling center’s oil spill in Allegan County marsh causing concern

Posted: 6:15 PM, May 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-10 18:15:41-04

TROWBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. — An oil spill in an Allegan County wetland has prompted an investigation by state and federal officials.

It happened near Broken Arrow Recycling Center a couple of months ago, but was only reported this week, upsetting a few employees who say they quit in protest of the center's slow recovery process.

They say they noticed bins containing motor oil had ruptured under what they believe was pressure from the intense winter weather and notified the owners about it right away, but the spill was never reported.

"They were just letting it sit in the wetlands and it was wrong," says Schayne Webb, who worked at Broken Arrow for a year.

Webb posted the video on social media on Monday and says he quit the next day, after little to no movement from management about the spill that he says happened months ago.

"The first thing he said when it came out was 'oh crap we can't let the DEQ find out cause they're going to fine us like $20,000,” Webb said.

Broken Arrow Recycling Center Owner Will Walker said they weren’t sure how to handle the spill.

"It was something we were working on little by little we weren't exactly sure how to attack," Walker said.

Webb says he told Walker the best form of attack was to call the state, but it was only after his post to Facebook that he says that call was made.

"It was reported to us that we had a disgruntled employee that wanted to make it very public, so we said, ‘well OK let's reach out and get some advice,’" says Walker. "It wasn't that we weren't doing anything it was just a slow process."

Walker says they didn't know it was bad enough to call the state and that they could clean it up before there was any damage to the soil or wildlife in the marsh.

Both parties agreed it should have been reported earlier and that it was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened.

"We don't intend to ever have something like this happen again," Walker said.

"Do everything by the book how it should be done this is a huge thing this is the environment we only get one planet," says Webb.

The Trowbridge Township supervisor said the marsh does not leak into any local water sources or other areas.

The spill has been contained and tested by the Environmental Protection Agency.

FOX 17 reached out to the state to find out more about their report and when test results will be completed, but have not heard back yet.