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Local State Of Emergency Declared In Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 28, 2010 1:00PM

As clean-up from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill continues, a new, albeit smaller, oil catastrophe is unfolding much closer to home. An oil pipeline that pumps about 8 million gallons of crude oil from Griffith, Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario cracked near Kalamazoo, Michigan on Monday. The pipeline, part of Enbridge Energy Partner's Lakehead System is estimated to have dumped over 800,000 gallons (~19,500 barrels) of oil into a creek leading to the Kalamazoo River, which empties into Lake Michigan at Saugatuk though officials told the AP they don't expect the spill to reach the lake. Enbridge has dispatched crews to contain the spill, deploying booms onto the river. Local officials have already declared a state of emergency and Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Pali Matyas said yesterday afternoon, "It’s all rolling downhill and there are a lot of complications.” Authorities on site say that the spill appears to be contained at Battle Creek. “Oil entered the Tallmadge Creek and found its way to the Kalamazoo River,” Enbridge Chief Executive Officer Patrick Daniel told Bloomberg News. “Teams have been working through the night and day working on the containment and clean up.” Some of the complications mentioned including workers not able to use trucks to help remove some of the oil due to high water levels.

Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm has deployed state resources in response to the spill as well, telling the Associated Press that "Our focus is protecting Michigan citizens and our environment by providing any needed state resources to expediently address the situation." Officials hope to contain the spill at Morrow Lake, which has a dam upstream of the Kalamazoo River. “To hear the news of another environmental disaster so soon after the tragedy in the Gulf is heart-breaking. How many oil spills, decimated ecosystems, and broken communities will we endure before we understand the true cost of carbon?" Illinois Congressman Mike Quiqley said in a statement. "Today we have been presented with still more compelling evidence of why we cannot continue to use fossil fuels as a crutch, and must commit to a clean energy economy.”

Michigan Senator Carl Levin said in a statement that he had been in close contact with federal agencies about the cleanup operation. "For now, the focus is on limiting the damage and cleaning up the oil," Levin said. "It is also vitally important that the company responsible for the spill bear the costs of cleanup and that it compensate anyone who has suffered damages related to the spill."

Thanks for the tip, Philip