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Oil Lingers in Kalamazoo River (Part 1)

Oil Lingers in Kalamazoo River (Part 1)

A Great Blue Heron covered in oil after the rupture of Enbridge's Line 6B near Marshall in July 2010. (Photo courtesy of EPA Region 5)

Host: Rebecca Williams
Show date: 04/12/2011

It was one of the largest oil spills in the Midwest... and it’s not over yet.

This is the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.

Crews are still cleaning up from last July’s oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. An oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Partners ruptured... and spilled more than 840,000 gallons of heavy crude. The oil polluted Talmadge Creek and more than 30 miles of the Kalamazoo River.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency say most of that oil has been sucked out of the river... and tens of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated soil have been removed.

But the work is far from done.

(heavy machinery sounds)

Mark Durno is the Deputy Incident Commander with the EPA. He’s overseeing the cleanup teams. He’s standing on the bank of the Kalamazoo River. Dump trucks and loaders rumble over a bridge out to an island in the river.

“The islands were heavily contaminated, we didn’t expect to see as much oil as we did. If you’d shovel down into the islands you’d see oil pool into the holes we’d dig.”

Workers are scooping out contaminated soil... hauling it to a staging area and shipping it off site.

Mark Durno says the weather will dictate what happens next. He says heavy rainstorms will probably move oil around. They won’t know how much more cleanup work they’ll have to do until they finish their spring assessment.

“Once the heavy rains recede, we’ll do an assessment over the entire stretch of river to determine whether there are substantial amounts of submerged oil in sediments that still exist in the system.”


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