Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Enbridge Partners involved in massive 19,500 bbl. crude spill in Michigan

MARSHALL, Mich. - Enbridge Energy Partners LP (NYSE: EEP) said about 19,500 barrels of crude oil may have leaked from a pipeline near its pump station in Marshall, Mich.
The exact time of the spill had not yet been determined on July 27, but the Battle Creek Enquirer quoted a Battle Creek resident who said he smelled oil at around 9 p.m. on July 25.
Residents of the Battle Creek area were being warned to stay away from the Kalamazoo River because of the oil spill. The Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan at Saugatuck, Mich.
After Enbridge learned of the spill, perhaps half a day after it occurred, the pipeline was shut down and isolation valves were closed, stopping the flow of oil.
Enbridge crews were on scene on July 26 with oil skimmers and booms on the creek and river, a press release from the company said. However, efforts to contain the spill were complicated by high water levels that made access to the flooding creek and river difficult to impossible.
Enbridge Liquids Pipelines general manager Tom Fridel said the leak was caused by a pipeline malfunction, but the cause is still being investigated, according to the Enquirer.
No one was immediately injured in the spill.
Area media were reporting that odor from the spill hung heavy over Battle Creek.
"It is unknown at this time how far the spill has traveled and exactly what areas have been affected. It is assumed due to the current level of the Kalamazoo River and the speed of the current that the entire Emmett Township area and beyond has been affected," according to an advisory issued today by the Emmett Township Public Safety Department.
Wayne Hoepner, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, said oil from the spill could reach Lake Michigan as early as Aug. 1, although numerous variables could affect the flow rate.
A message on an Enbridge hotline set up for the spill said "we regret any inconvenience this has caused to the community."
The oil leaked from a 30-inch pipeline that carries about eight million gallons of oil per day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.
The oil spilled into Talmadge Creek, which flows northwest into the Kalamazoo River. The site is in Calhoun County's Marshall Township, about 60 miles southeast of Grand Rapids.
Authorities evacuated two homes near the leak.
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, an impromptu animal rescue of wildlife affected by the Marshall-area oil spill was to begin immediately.
Organizers said in a posting on Facebook that volunteers should gather at Squaw Creek, scene of the spill.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., issued a statement indicating he is “deeply concerned about the effects of the oil spill near Marshall, including the environmental impact and the disruption to residents and businesses. It is also deeply worrisome that the oil from the spill has made its way into the Kalamazoo River.”

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