Selfridge: Black gunk on homes not from planes

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Officials with Selfridge Air National Guard Base said Wednesday there is no indication a black substance splashed on numerous properties in Harrison Township near the base came from aircrafts.

That news has left residents in the area of Ballard and Jefferson, where the substance was discovered earlier this week, puzzled about its origin.

“We believe it was from an aircraft,” said resident Paul Schlutow, whose vehicle, driveway and roof were riddled with the black, oily substance. “The only thing around here is Selfridge. I received a notice from them that no, it wasn’t them. I doubt it.”

Officials with the 127th Wing said that on Tuesday they were contacted by a resident concerned about an environmental issue on and around his home, which is about a mile and a half from the southern border of the base.

As a safety precaution, base officials said they contacted the Harrison Township Fire Department and advised residents do the same. Officials said they were also in contact with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, who sent a representative to review the substance.

“We will continue to work with our local and state partner agencies to resolve this question,” Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, commander of the 127th Wing and Selfridge base .

Air base officials said they reviewed aircraft traffic in and out of Selfridge in the four days leading up to and including Monday.

“Based on all of these reviews, there is no indication that the substance in question came from a military aircraft of any type,” officials said.

Schlutow said he first noticed the substance on his white 2008 Dodge Ram pickup truck, patio and driveway after returning home Monday.

“I came back and thought it was bird droppings all over my truck,” he said.

Later, while shoveling he noticed more of the black stuff underneath the snow.

“As I looked further, a neighbor came over,” he said adding he learned the substance had landed on his neighbor’s boats, cars and roofs.

Schlutow said a representative from the MDEQ came to take samples of the substance, which he said looks like it’s petroleum based.

A representative from MDEQ could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.