The Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

The Kalamazoo River Oil Spill
What did we learn and how did we learn it
Chris Killian
The Kalamazoo Gazette
Enbridge President and CEO
Patrick Daniel, 8/13/10:
“The value and importance of energy to society is so critical.
We all wish that we didn’t have to have pipelines. And we
all wish that we didn’t have to experience accidents.”
Background on Pipeline 6B
 Built in 1969.
 Runs about 8 million gallons of crude oil and other
products daily under normal operating conditions.
 30-inch pipe, 286-miles long.
What happened?
 On 7/26/10, a rupture
 Rip in the top portion of
 Cause still unknown,
pending NTSB
investigation findings due out between July 2011
and Feb. 2012.
The 6-foot Rip
The Result
 819,000 to over 1 million
gallons of crude oil spilled
into the Kalamazoo River
by way of Talmadge
 30 miles of river
 Oil nearly reached
Superfund site.
 One of the largest oil
spills in Midwest history.
 Flooding at the time made
it worse.
The victims…
Many animals impacted
 Several species call
the river watershed
home: muskrat (left)
to turtles to Canada
geese and other birds
to waterfowl.
 All were impacted.
Residents impacted
 Concerns about negative
health effects, loss of
property value,
groundwater and air
 Hundreds of homes
 Will the river ever be the
Getting to work
 Hundreds of thousands
of feet of boom
 At the height, over
2,000 workers on the
 Cleanup, remediation
and restoration work
for months - and still
Areas (mostly) restored
 Under oversight from
U.S. EPA, the event
went from
containment to
cleanup to restoration.
 Nearly all the oil is out
of the creek and river.
 Long-term monitoring
and water testing.
Animals make a comeback
 Total animals
rehabilitated and
released: 2,158
 Total animals
contacted: 2,536
 Several species,
including many, birds,
mammals and
But the overwhelming species
was turtles
When it’s all said and done
 Cost of spill: $300 to $400 million,
although Enbridge anticipates actually
spending about 10 percent of that.
 Long-term groundwater and well
 Uncertain economic development impacts.
 Michigan officials don’t see river coming
back to its pre-spill state until 2015.
What Enbridge did
 Set-up claims centers in Battle Creek and
 Took hundreds of claims, ranging from
costs related to myriad damages related to
the spill to reduced property values.
 Set-up home purchasing program.
 Patrick Daniel on-scene for months.
Pipeline up and running, with
 Began operating under reduced pressure in late
 In-line tests performed on pipeline 6B in 2007 and
2009 found 329 defects. Out of that total,
Enbridge has performed 61 repairs.
 Under restart plan, all other anomalies must have
repair plan in place.
 3,800 foot section of pipe under St. Clair River
must be replaced, likely to take place next year.
Public frustration, confusion
 Nationwide, 44 percent of hazardous liquids
pipelines lie in a high-consequence area.
Only 7 percent of natural gas pipelines do.
 Many interviewed asked why? If you live in a
non-HCA and an incident occurs, it’s a
significant incident, they said
Frustration cont.
 Where are the pipelines?
 Public’s right to know.
 “It got me thinking.
What’s the status of these
underground pipelines?
How are they tested? How
are they inspected?”
-Kim Sandelin, who
has a 36-inch gasoline
pipeline running under his
backyard and under a
Media frustrations
 Lack of response from PHMSA (where are
the pipelines, how are they inspected, what
are they inspected for and how often).
 How to inform the public with lack of
 The media is, for better or worse, one of the
most effective vehicles for informing the
Media cont.
 Information empowers people to make responsible
decisions and enact positive behavioral changes steps PHMSA says are integral to public safety.
 Therefore, data and other information regarding
everything from spill plans to location of pipelines to
inspection data, given that it all has bearing on public
safety, should be readily available.
 Former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer: “But companies
need to ask themselves: Is it cheaper to make
repairs and maintain their systems, or respond to a
 Cyndi Roper, state director for the Michigan
chapter of Clean Water Action: “There seems to be
a hesitancy on the part of regulators to regulate.
People are starting to make the connections – BP,
now the Kalamazoo River spill. There is an
awareness now that we’re vulnerable. These pipes
are among us. There has been an awakening.”
 All photos © The Kalamazoo Gazette or
courtesy of the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency.
 All quotes © The Kalamazoo Gazette.