"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

840,000 Gallon Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Could Reach Lake Michigan By Sunday

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 11:15 am

John Corcoran, center, and Cam Meyers, right, watch from the 15 Mile Road bridge as oil flows in the Kalamazoo River Tuesday, July 27, 2010, in Marshall, Mich. Crews were working Tuesday to contain and clean up more than 800,000 gallons of oil that poured into a creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan, coating birds and fish. (AP Photo/The Kalamazoo Gazette, Jonathon Gruenke)

Oldspeak:“At what point does it become obvious that the primary energy source of our civilization is killing us and everything around us? When will we get serious about transitioning to the myriad of clean and abundant alternatives (Solar, Geothermal, Wind, Wave, etc…) Probably when it’s too late.😐 ”

From Chris Zoladz @ The Detroit Free Press:

Battle Creek, MI area residents are being warned to stay away from the Kalamazoo River because of a major oil spill.

An estimated 840,000 gallons of oil leaked into a creek Monday that feeds into the river. Area media were reporting that odor from the spill hung heavy over Battle Creek this morning.

“It is unknown at this time how far the spill has traveled and exactly what areas have been affected. It is assumed due to the current level of the Kalamazoo River and the speed of the current that the entire Emmett Township area and beyond has been affected,” according to an advisory issued today by the Emmett Township Public Safety Department.

Wayne Hoepner, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, said oil from the spill could reach Lake Michigan as early as Sunday, although numerous variables could affect the flow rate. The NWS has been getting reports of oil on the eastern edge of Battle Creek. Hoepner said the oil is likely to reach Comstock, a township in Kalamazoo County, tomorrow.

Calls to Chicago-based Enbridge Liquids Pipelines were not immediately returned today. A message on a company hotline set up for the spill said “we regret any inconvenience this has caused to the community.”

The oil leaked Monday from a 30-inch pipeline that carries about 8 million gallons of oil per day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario. The oil spilled into Talmadge Creek, which flows northwest into the Kalamazoo River. The site is in Calhoun County’s Marshall Township, about 60 miles southeast of Grand Rapids. Authorities evacuated two homes near the leak.

According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, an impromptu animal rescue of wildlife affected by the Marshall-area oil spill will begin at noon today. Organizers said in a posting on Facebook that volunteers should gather at Squaw Creek, scene of the spill, at noon. They said volunteers should bring fish nets, leather gloves, large tubs, Dawn dish soap and watering cans for rinsing off the animals.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., issued a statement today indicating he is “deeply concerned about the effects of the oil spill near Marshall, including the environmental impact and the disruption to residents and businesses. It is also deeply worrisome that the oil from the spill has made its way into the Kalamazoo River.”

Levin said his office has been in contact with federal agencies “to make sure that those carrying out the cleanup have all the resources they need to complete the cleanup job as quickly as possible.” While the focus now is on limiting damage and clean-up, Levin said it is “vitally important” that the company responsible for the spill bear the costs of clean-up and compensate anyone suffering financial damages related to the spill.

From  David Runk @ The Associated Press:

Southern Michigan residents are learning that devastating oil spills aren’t limited to the Gulf Coast.

Crews were working Wednesday to contain and clean up an estimated 877,000 gallons of oil that coated birds and fish as it poured into a creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, one of the state’s major waterways.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm toured the area by helicopter Tuesday night and said she wasn’t satisfied with the response to the spill. The leak in the 30-inch pipeline, which was built in 1969 and carries about 8 million gallons of oil daily from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario, was detected early Monday.

“There needs to be a lot more done,” Granholm said. “There are not enough resources on the river right now.”

Granholm declared a state of disaster in Calhoun County and potentially affected areas along the river, which eventually bisects the city of Kalamazoo and meanders to Saugatuck, where it empties into Lake Michigan. Officials don’t believe oil will spread past a dam upstream of Kalamazoo. The cause of the spill is under investigation.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.’s affiliate Enbridge Energy Partners LP of Houston initially estimated that about 819,000 gallons of oil spilled into Talmadge Creek before the company stopped the flow.

But state officials were told during a company briefing Tuesday that an estimated 877,000 gallons spilled, said Mary Dettloff, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

As of late Tuesday, oil was reported in at least 16 miles of the Kalamazoo River downstream of the spill. Company officials said the spill appeared to be contained and oil wouldn’t likely drift much more downstream.

Enbridge crews and contractors are using oil skimmers and absorbent booms to minimize its environmental impact.

“This is our responsibility,” Enbridge’s president and chief executive Patrick D. Daniel said Tuesday evening in Battle Creek. “This is our mess. We’re going to clean it up.”

Many area residents were surprised to learn that a pipeline was so close to the Great Lakes river.

“I just can’t believe they allowed that to happen, and they’re not equipped to handle it,” said Owen Smith, 53, of Galesburg. Smith lives near the river and stopped at several points far upstream on Tuesday to see what might be headed his way.

The air was pungent with the smell of oil, but health officials said they so far were satisfied with the results from air quality tests. Groundwater testing was expected to begin soon.

Still, health officials warned residents to stay away from the river, saying it should be closed to fishing and other recreational activities, and irrigation. No injuries or illnesses have been reported, but a few households near the spill had been evacuated.

Enbridge said it had about 200 employees and contractors working on the spill, and a center was being set up to help ducks, geese and other wildlife coated with oil.

Local, state and federal agencies also were involved, and the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation.

U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Mich., said he discussed the spill with President Barack Obama. Schauer called the spill a “public health crisis,” and said he plans to hold hearings to examine the response.

Obama has pledged a swift response to requests for assistance, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

The river already faced major pollution issues. An 80-mile segment of the river and five miles of a tributary, Portage Creek, were placed on the federal Superfund list of high-priority hazardous waste sites in 1990. The Kalamazoo site also includes four landfills and several defunct paper mills.

  1. On Monday night (July 26) an oil pipeline – owned by Enbridge Energy Inc. – burst and spilled over 1,000,000+ gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River near Battle Creek, Michigan. Michiganders are scrambling to stop the flow from getting into Lake Michigan, but I fear their efforts are in vain.

    According to the latest local news reports, it seems that Enbridge was slow to react to the emergency, while under reporting the actual amount of oil that was leaked into the river. Since Monday, the situation has grown even worse. Birds and other animal wildlife, coated with oil, have been found. People living along the river have been warned to evacuate the area along the river way and not to drink their well water for fear of contamination.

    1,000,000+ gallons of oil may not sound like much to some, considering the amount of oil now floating just underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, but in such a confined area – like the Kalamazoo River – that amount is devastating. As the oil continues to flow west, it will soon reach Lake Michigan, affecting the drinking water of millions of people, killing all wildlife, and despoiling the true beauty of the great lake.

    I’m really starting to believe that corporations don’t give a damn about anything other than their profits. As I stated in one of my previous blog posts (Who Put Corporations in Charge?), “…what good is money, after all, if you don’t have air to breathe, water to drink, or food to eat without fear of contamination?”

    • Agreed Sir. The reality is this: The dominant institution of our time primary purpose is to maximize profit. It is required by law to put the interests of it’s shareholders ahead of everything else (including clean air, water and food.) Profit is paramount.

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