FRANKENMUTH (WJRT) (2/4/2019) - A neighborhood near the Star of the West Milling Co. was coated in white last week, but the substance isn't snow.
The company released a statement Monday acknowledging it sprayed wheat flour during the early morning hours of Jan. 31.
The mess left several homes east and north of the mill coated in flour. Rain and damp weather caused the flour to congeal in clumps stuck to homes, sidewalks, streets and driveways.
Star of the West Milling said the flour is nontoxic, biodegradable and poses no human health risk. Cleanup activities in the neighborhood around School Street were under way Monday.
"We deeply regret any inconvenience to our neighbors and we are committed to partnering with any affected homeowners to support a thorough and complete cleanup," the company's statement says.
The mill said extremely cold weather last Wednesday and Thursday caused a pipe to separate. The flour sprayed out of the pipe during an overnight transfer of flour from one part of the facility to another.
The company says repairs and cleanup commenced almost immediately despite dangerously cold wind chills and lingering snow showers late last week. Snow covering the ground also prevented a thorough assessment of how much spilled.
"We will continue to complete our cleanup efforts as weather conditions improve, focusing on properties nearest to the mill location where the spill was concentrated and most affected our neighbors," the mill's statement says.
The company says it is "100 percent committed" to cleaning up the mess at its expense. Some residences may have to wait until weather conditions improve before they can be power washed and completely cleaned up.
Star of the West Milling says it already have replaced and upgraded equipment that failed, allowing the flour spill. The mill also will discontinue flour transfers on third shift so spills can be detected more quickly.
Anyone affected by the spill should see the Star of the West Milling Co. website for updates and call Patrick Nellenbach at (989) 652-7028 or Michael Fassezke at (989) 652-7031 for more information.