The 2021 Flint River Flotilla returned in-person after the event went virtual in 2020 due to COVID. (Photo courtesy of the Flint River Watershed Coalition)

Flint, MI—Following a chemical spill along the Flint River in mid-June, organizers will be hosting an on-land Flotilla Pirate Fest as an alternative to the Flint River Flotilla.

The Flotilla Pirate Fest will be held on Aug. 6 from 1-5 p.m. at Tenacity Brewing.

The event will include live entertainment, a costume contest, a treasure hunt for kids, sprinklers, water toys, food and beverages, with a $5 admission fee. The fundraiser supports the work of the event’s host Corridor Alliance Chapter of the Flint River Watershed Coalition along the Flint River system. 

On July 11, 2022, Corridor Alliance Manager Sarah Scheitler said there remains uncertainties about what the leaked substances are, as well as ongoing signs of foreign substances in the Flint River.

Since late June, the Genesee County Health Department has advised visitors to avoid sports, fishing, or direct contact in the Flint River water between Stepping Stone Falls and Leith Street, the area where the leak has been contained to. 

The annual Flint River Flotilla is traditionally held outside of this section of the river, but Scheitler’s team is airing on the side of caution, she explained.

“Every year, we try to theme the flotilla just as an added fun element,” Scheitler said. “We were planning on having a pirate-themed flotilla anyway, so now that we don’t plan to host the event on the water, we decided to pivot to an on-land Pirate Fest. It is basically a way to celebrate our Flint River community and the diehard supporters of the flotilla.” 

Lockhart Chemical Company’s facility on July 11, 2022. Authorities have identified the metalworking additive manufacturer to be responsible for the spill on the Flint River, which occurred in mid-June. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) confirmed last month that Lockhart Chemical Company is the source of the spill. The company has accepted responsibility for the leak, EGLE said. While Lockhart did not respond to Flint Beat’s request for comment, Jill Greenberg, spokesperson of EGLE, noted that the company has been cooperating with EGLE.

According to Greenberg, roughly 14,000 gallons of oil-like substances have been collected from the spill as of last week. Lockhart has found the main breach to the storm sewer that led to the spill, she added. The outfall, which is located on West Boulevard Drive, east of Dort Highway, is under daily monitoring and skimming.

As clean-up and investigative efforts continue, “sample results indicate certain volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds were found in the discharge,” Greenberg said in an email, and the analysis of these compounds is ongoing. 

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...