It’s been more than a year since a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy ruptured. More than 843,000 gallons of tar sands oil spilled into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.
The Environmental Protection Agency says much of that oil has been removed from the creek and the river. But the EPA says there are still close to one hundred areas of submerged oil on the bottom of the river. Enbridge is now working to remove that oil.
The company recently missed an EPA deadline to clean up all of the submerged oil and contaminated soils.
Jason Manshum is an Enbridge spokesperson.
“Well, you know, while we have focused on completing that directive by that deadline, we have not been willing to sacrifice that work quality solely in order to meet a specific date on a calendar.”
Manshum says they ran into a number of obstacles... hot weather, storms, and a shortage of the special equipment they need. And the biggest challenge: those areas of submerged oil expanded.
“Keep in mind, the river is obviously a moving body of water, nothing stays constant, nothing is the same. So we found some of those submerged oil locations had shifted and some had expanded.”
Both Enbridge and the EPA have previously stated that it’ll be impossible to clean up every last drop of oil.
“It’s pretty common, most people think it should be easy to get it all out, and it’s just really not.”
Mike Alexander is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He’s one of the incident commanders on the cleanup site.
“When you get down to smaller quantities, they get harder to get, just the nature of how the river’s different at different locations, it gets trickier, it’s not an easy project, it’s going to take time.”
The spill happened smack in the middle of some of the most sensitive wetland areas in the state.