Friday, August 06, 2010

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

A broken pipeline oil spill 100 miles west of Detroit in the Kalamazoo River is part of a larger pattern of inadequate government oversight and supervision and an industry that is prone to cut corners. The Michigan spill appears to have begun late July 25 when something broke in a 30-inch pipeline that carries oil from Canada to Midwestern refineries. The leak was not noticed until 11:45 the next morning. By then, an estimated 19,500 barrels (819,000 gallons) had escaped. The spill turned Talmadge Creek into a stream of oil and made a section of the larger Kalamazoo River run black.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an arm of the Transportation Departmen had sent a "warning letter" to Enbridge Inc. about the pipeline, Line 6B. The agency says the pipeline, where 250 "anomalies" had been found the previous June, lacked some working monitors intended to detect internal corrosion. In February EPA met with Enbridge's leaders to complain about larger safety problems. On July 15, Enbridge asked for an extension on its deadline to repair Line 6B. Before the agency could reply, the pipe apparently broke. "I don't think the answer is more government oversight or the need for new

Millions of gallons of an oil-and-water mixture have been vacuumed up Mark Durno, the EPA's incident commander, believes the site to be cleaned up even as costs to do so are estimated to be around $100 million. The National Wildlife has written a report documenting hundreds of accidents in the oil and gas industry in the past decade.(Wash Post, 8/6/2010, photo courtesy AP)

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