Michigan Oil Spill: Recovery is Just Beginning

 

As Kate Sheppard reported last week, July 26th marked the start of yet another oil spill in the US. A 30-inch pipeline owned by Calgary-based Enbridge Energy Partners burst in southwest Michigan, dumping more than a million gallons of oil into a creek feeding into the Kalamazoo River.

Now, the communities of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties begin the process of cleaning up. Homes surrounding the site remain evacuated per the recommendation of the Calhoun County Health Department due to the airborne presence of benzene—a known carcinogen that is released when oil comes in contact with the air. Signs reading “Recent contamination as a result of the Enbridge Energy oil spill have made this river unsafe to use” line the Kalamazoo River.

Sort-of-good news came earlier this week: The oil had stopped flowing by the end of last week. And on Tuesday, Enbridge, having already launched a spill response website, offered to pay full market value for the more than 200 homes that lie within the spill “red zone,” or within 200 feet of the river, that were already for sale.

But the picture is far from rosy. Eighty miles of the 160-mile long Kalamazoo River is already deemed an EPA Superfund site for PCB contamination caused by  paper mill, and reports now show that the oil has already reached this area of the river. The EPA disapproved a series of containment and recovery plans that Enbridge set forth last week, saying they were insufficient. But no matter how solid the plans, the clean-up is likely to take months.  

The EPA claims that it will seek full liability against Enbridge for the spill, which, under the Clean Water Act, could amount to $1,100 to $4,300 for each of the 24,000 barrels spilled. The company has pledged to pay all fines in full. But even its own spokesman Alan Roth admits that “there’s still a tremendous amount of work to do.” Jay Wilson, a biologist with the state of Michigan said, “We probably won’t know the full effects for weeks or months or years.”

 

 

 

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate