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Officials Try To Calm Lake Michigan Oil Spill Fears

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 30, 2010 9:20PM

As clean up of the Kalamazoo River oil spill continues, EPA officials continue to downplay fears that the spill has spread and is threatening Lake Michigan. The EPA's Ralph Dollhopf told the media, “There is no anticipated inflow (of oil) into the city of Kalamazoo. We are confident we can contain the oil upstream.” And another EPA official, Susan Hedman, disputed claims by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm that there was oil on Lake Morrow, an important milestone for potential spread of the oil downriver. Other experts have also spoken up saying, that while this is certainly a disaster for local wildlife, damage to Lake Michigan is unlikely.

"I don't think it's going to have much impact on Lake Michigan. You have 70 miles of river and all of the booms set up to stop it," said Rick Rediske, a senior program manager with Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute. "There's not enough oil to damage the lake," he said.

Not that it's all good news out of Michigan today. Evacuations are underway for households living near the original spill site due to fears over the cancer-causing chemical benzene that's in the air close to the site. And some reporters from the Detroit Free Press are questioning whether the leak has been fully sealed, though Enbridge spokeswoman Terri Larson said "no fresh oil is leaking from the leak site itself."

And there's Enbridge's history of problems. According to an Associated Press report, the company has been cited 30 times since 2002 and reports suggest that Enbridge didn't report the leak until several hours after it had been discovered and up to 16 hours after officials received complaints of "a natural gas smell in the area."

Oh, and Mayor Daley's swipe at Michigan over the Asian Carp issue? Seems Michiganders didn't take too kindly to it.