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Is there something missing in the latest plan to cleanup the Kalamazoo River oil spill?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
The Kalamazoo River has been the site of a massive cleanup operation ever since a ruptured pipeline spewed more than 840 thousand gallons of Canadian oil sands crude near Marshall in July of 2010.

A Michigan State University professor says he’s concerned a revised plan for cleaning up an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River is missing details in one important area.      

Enbridge Energy has spent nearly 16 months cleaning up more than 840 thousand gallons of crude oil that spilled into the Kalamazoo River from a broken pipeline. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing Enbridge’s latest cleanup plan. The plan calls for the cleanup to continue well into next year.   

Dr. Stephen Hamilton is a professor of ecosystem ecology at MSU. He's read over Enbridge's revised cleanup plan. He says the plan is 'definitely' on the right course. But Hamilton is concerned it does not include a detailed plan for toxicology tests.  

This is important because we don’t have a lot of previous experience with this kind of oil…in a fresh water body and not in a river of this kind" says Hamilton, "So we need to know what levels are toxic and harmful to life in the water and on land for that matter.”  

Hamilton says it’s important to know if the oil present in the river is still toxic enough to justify the level of damage being done to the environment by the cleanup itself.  

Hamilton says he would like to see a broad range of toxicology tests conducted this winter. He says doing the testing over the next few months can help guide Enbridge's cleanup plans for 2012. 

An EPA spokesman says they are aware of Hamilton’s concerns, but declined to comment further.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.