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Posted on Thu, Jan 26, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Cleanup of oil spill from old transformer under way; Marshall Road to remain closed Friday

By Lisa Allmendinger

Editor's note: This story has been updated with details of the cleanup and oil test results.

A section of Marshall Road, just west of Zeeb Road, in Scio Township will remain closed through Friday morning as an environmental cleanup company proceeds with the cleanup of an oil spill from an old transformer.

Firefighters and the county HAZMAT director were awaiting test results on the spilled oil Thursday evening before they could proceed with the cleanup. The fire department received the call around 4:20 p.m., and by 8 p.m. it was determined that the oil did not contain polychlorinated biphenyls, a highly toxic chemical compound.

Marshall between Zeeb and Merlin Way is expected to remain blocked off Friday morning, so motorists should look for alternative routes.

Scio Township Fire Chief Carl Ferch said the about 6-foot tall, 4-foot wide and 3-foot deep old transformer was being transported on its side by a towing company. It had been picked up from a business near Huron River Drive and Zeeb Road.

“The driver thought the oil in it was frozen,” Ferch said, and when he discovered it was leaking, he stopped and stood up the structure, thinking that might help the situation.

Oil leaked onto the truck and the ground, and there is an about 50-yard by 1-foot wide trail of oil on the south side of Marshall Road, Ferch said.

“We’re taking all possible precautions to protect the environment,” Ferch said. The firefighters have set up booms to block the oil from reaching a small creek nearby.

“Where the puddle stops, there’s a small creek,” he said.

Tests were conducted to determine what type of oil had leaked from the structure, Ferch said, adding that these old transformers sometimes contain PCBs.

PCBs are defined as "a family of highly toxic chemical compounds consisting of two benzene rings in which chlorine takes the place of two or more hydrogen atoms (that are) known to cause skin diseases and suspected of causing birth defects and cancer."

No cost estimates were available for the cleanup operation, and Ferch expects the job to be completed sometime Friday.

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Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at



Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

@Ann English: Couldn't be Sweepster -- Marshall Rd. is more than a mile South of the Huron.

David Read

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

Marshall Road is now open.

Dog Guy

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 6:37 a.m.

On a warm day recently, I parked by an apiary and got BPP splattered on my car. It was sticky and stunk and was certainly more toxic than the type of oil in that transformer.

Kai Petainen

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

we've had bigger spills and ann didn't bother to write this much info. "50-yard by 1-foot wide trail of oil on the south side of Marshall Road" that's much smaller than the other. "No cost estimates were available for the cleanup operation" why start asking now, you didn't before.

Ann English

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

Sweepster fits the location description. If the transformer came from there, it's ironic that a manufacturer of street sweeping machines would be the starting point for an environmentally unfriendly oil-filled transformer's route. Multi-wheeled trucks, such as those used at gravel pits, don't climb the Zeeb Road hill from the Huron River to Miller Road as fast as smaller vehicles do; the idea came to me of a smaller truck spilling oil on that hill, making it too slippery for any other vehicle to climb. So I read on, glad to read that no oil spilled until the truck reached a level road surface.