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Enbridge ordered to continue dredging of Kalamazoo River
MARSHALL, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The company that spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River has been told to go back and finish cleaning it up.
The EPA issued that order to Enbridge Thursday.
The agency says it has found submerged oil and that more dredging is needed to remove it.
An oil pipeline ruptured near Marshall three years ago, contaminating the river for miles.
Enbridge has five days to respond to the cleanup order.
Michigan Senator Carl Levin is applauding the EPA, saying "Enbridge needs to take full responsibility for ensuring that public health is protected and the disastrous mess they created is fully cleaned up."
We reached out to Enbridge and they sent along the following response to Newschannel 3:
We promised the people of Marshall and Battle Creek that we would make the Kalamazoo River cleaner than before the spill, and we remain firm in our commitment. So it is encouraging that the cleanup, under the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), progressed to the point that the Kalamazoo River opened for recreational use in June 2012. We are also pleased that remediation of Talmadge Creek and the overbanks of the affected waterways was successfully completed in March 2012, and long-term monitoring of those areas has been turned over to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
Although much progress has been made, we received an Order today from Region 5 U.S. EPA requiring additional response efforts on the Kalamazoo River. We are, as we have always been, focused on cooperation with the EPA and other authorities in doing what is best for the river and the environment based on analysis and sound science. We will study the Order in detail and respond accordingly.
The U.S. EPA and Enbridge have worked together to protect the health of the river environment. Enbridge’s position has long been that science, such as the data from the EPA-driven oil quantification studies, should drive next steps. We acknowledge there are areas in the river where sheen can be encountered – and in fact measured this volume at almost two gallons in 2012 – but also understand dredging and active recovery may cause incremental damage as determined by the U.S. EPA’s own Net Environmental Benefit Assessment (NEBA). Therefore, we believe the Order must take into consideration the impacts of additional response efforts on the community as well as the environment, and in the end, any additional work will result in a positive net benefit to the affected area. Our commitment remains strong and we believe it is essential that local residents have a voice in this process.
The weathered and degraded oil remaining in the river is in extremely small concentrations found in the bottom sediments. It is nonhazardous upon incidental contact according to the results of a study conducted by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). Furthermore, the drinking water from private wells near the river has been and continues to be safe for consumption, as verified by the MDCH.
Enbridge remains committed to completing the remediation of the Kalamazoo River. We will have a long-term presence in the area and will continue to work in the best interests of the affected communities and river environment.
The original release from the EPA is as follows:
CHICAGO (March 14, 2013) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued an administrative order that requires Enbridge to do additional dredging in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River to clean up oil from the company’s July 2010 pipeline spill. EPA’s order requires dredging in sections of the river above Ceresco Dam, upstream of Battle Creek, and in the Morrow Lake Delta.
EPA has repeatedly documented the presence of recoverable submerged oil in the sections of the river identified in the order and has determined that submerged oil in these areas can be recovered by dredging. The dredging activity required by EPA’s order will prevent submerged oil from migrating to downstream areas where it will be more difficult or impossible to recover.
Enbridge has five days to respond to the order and 15 days to provide EPA with a work plan. Dredging is anticipated to begin this spring and is not expected to result in closures of the river. EPA’s order also requires Enbridge to maintain sediment traps throughout the river to capture oil outside the dredge areas.
On July 26, 2010, Enbridge reported that a 30-inch oil pipeline ruptured near Marshall, Michigan. Heavy rains caused the spilled oil to travel 35 miles downstream before it was contained.
For more information: epa.gov/enbridgespill