EPA Response to Enbridge Spill in Michigan
Enbridge Energy Partners LLP (Enbridge) reported a 30-inch pipeline ruptured on Monday, July 26, 2010, near Marshall, Michigan. The release, estimated at 843,000 gallons, entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 35 miles downstream on the Kalamazoo River.
As the federal agency in charge of the response to the spill, EPA assumed a leadership role in the Unified Command and mobilized an Incident Management Team made up of federal, state and local agencies.
On July 27, the day after the spill was reported, EPA issued a legal order under the authority of the Clean Water Act directing Enbridge to conduct removal actions. EPA also ordered the company to produce documents and information relevant to EPA's investigation into the source, extent and nature of the oil spill.
On July 28, 2010, the spill was contained approximately 80 river miles from Lake Michigan.
As of Aug. 14, Enbridge has closed the Kalamazoo River from Paddler’s Grove Park to the Kalamazoo Dam at Battle Creek The text in white boxes are the recommended entry and exit points.
Dredging Continues on Kalamazoo River
November 21, 2013 - EPA has denied Enbridge's request for an extension of time to complete work required by the Agency’s March 14, 2013, order. EPA’s order identifies sections of the Kalamazoo River system where submerged oil is recoverable by dredging. The order requires cleanup work to be completed by December 31, 2013.
Since March, Enbridge has successfully removed oil and sediment from two of the three major impoundment areas identified in the order and from several smaller sediment trap locations.
- EPA denial of extension (PDF) (3pp, 62K) Nov. 21, 2013
- Enbridge request for extension (PDF) (29pp, 570K) Nov. 11, 2013
August 16, 2013 - As of Aug. 14, Enbridge has closed the Kalamazoo River from Paddler’s Grove Park to the Kalamazoo Dam at Battle Creek. That section had temporarily re-opened Aug. 9. Although the dredge permit for the Mill Ponds area has not been issued, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave permission to Enbridge to begin placing dredge equipment and conveyance piping in the Mill Ponds area, which began Aug.15 in anticipation of the issuance of the dredge permit in the coming days. 3.5 miles of the river remains closed in the Ceresco Dam area. A total of about 6 miles of the river are closed until dredging is complete. While dredging is underway, those sections will be closed for the safety of the public and workers on the river. The cleanup work is required by EPA’s March 2013 administrative order. The text in white boxes are the recommended entry and exit points. (Click map to enlarge.)
- Map of Kalamazoo River Closure During 2013 Dredging (PDF) (1p, 305K)
- News Release: Enbridge Begins New Dredging Project on Kalamazoo River - July 30, 2013
In March, EPA ordered Enbridge to remove Line 6B oil and oil-containing sediment along parts of the Kalamazoo River where significant accumulations have been recently found. The order requires dredging of submerged oil and oil-contaminated sediment within the following areas:
- Upstream of the Ceresco Dam
- Mill Ponds area
- Morrow Lake, Morrow Lake Delta and adjacent areas
- Sediment traps at two designated locations
The dredging of the specified areas must be completed by Dec. 31 this year. Dredging was the chosen technique because it has proven effective at removing submerged oil and oil-containing sediment. EPA and MDEQ experts agree that controlled dredging is the best and most proven way to eliminate the remaining recoverable oil and to remove oil that has collected in sediment traps.
Oil spill amounts
Enbridge initially reported the pipeline break released 819,000 gallons of crude. The company later revised that amount to 843,000 gallons. At EPA’s direction, Enbridge has provided regular, updated estimates of how much oil it has recovered since the spill. These estimates are based on methods worked out with EPA technical experts to determine the amount of oil in all waste recovery categories: oil, contaminated water, soil, vegetation, debris, and cleanup materials. As of this May, Enbridge estimates the company has recovered 1.15 million gallons of oil from the Kalamazoo River.
Remaining oil and future recovery
EPA estimates about 180,000 gallons of Line 6B oil (plus or minus 100,000 gallons) remain in the river bottom sediment. EPA has ordered Enbridge to remove the recoverable oil (about 12,000-18,000 gallons) by dredging.
The162,000-168,000 gallons of oil that will remain in the river after this dredging work is complete will not be able to be recovered right away without causing significant adverse impacts to the river. Instead, it must be carefully monitored and collected over time using traps that gather contaminated sediment. Future oil recovery will depend on whether the crude eventually moves to the areas with these sediment traps.
- Fact Sheet: Dredging Begins On Kalamazoo River (PDF) (2 pp,471K) - August 2013
- Comienza el dragado del río Kalamazoo (PDF) (2 pp, 764K) - August 2013
The best way to identify the location of submerged oil and determine its extent is by using a field technique known as “poling.” Poling involves manually agitating soft sediment (river mud) using a pole with an attached disc combined with a global positioning system to record the exact location. When the sediment is agitated, submerged oil rises to the surface in the form of oil sheen and globules. A team, composed of mostly Enbridge personnel with oversight and direction from EPA and MDEQ employees, categorizes the response of the submerged oil to poling at each location as “heavy,” “moderate,” “light,” or “none.” Thousands of poling results are used to map out locations of the river where submerged oil can then be targeted for removal by dredging.
EPA Marshall Field Office
13444 Preston Drive
269-727-2511 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays
Comments or questions
- Francisco Arcaute
Community Involvement Coordinator
- Don de Blasio (firstname.lastname@example.org)
269-727-2511 / 312-343-6666
Review documents related to the EPA Response to the Enbridge Spill in Michigan at these local libraries:
Marshall District Library
124 W. Green St.
Helen Warner Library
36 Minges Creek Place
Battle Creek, Mich.
Willard Public Library
7 Van Buren St. W.
Battle Creek, Mich.