Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

One million gallons are estimated to have gone into the river.

Oil Spill Hits Kalamazoo River

The Kalamazoo River is the new recipient of 800,000 gallons of crude oil, resulting from an underground pipeline in the Midwest, spanning across Canada and the United States. Estimates suggest approximately 19,500 barrels surged through the river and its surrounding area as a result. The pipeline is owned by a company called Enbridge Energy Partners. Discovered on Monday morning, the leak was plugged shortly thereafter as the pipeline's operators ceased oil flow through the line.

Oil spill headed for Lake Michigan

Only about 60 miles away from Lake Michigan, the Kalamazoo River oil spill is quickly moving toward the lake. Residents are already reporting heavy fumes and oil-coated wildlife along the waterways.

Corrosion found in pipeline that fouled Kalamazoo River

Federal regulators say corrosion tests done as recently as last year found "metal loss anomalies" along the pipeline that sent thousands of gallons of oil rushing into the Kalamazoo River this week.

Just two weeks ago, the pipeline's owner notified the government it was considering replacing section of pipe rather than repairing it, regulators say.

Late Wednesday, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration or PHMSA - a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation - sent Enbridge Energy Partners Ltd a corrective action order in the wake of the spill, spelling out the steps that must be taken before the pipeline is reopened.

It also ordered that the section of failed pipe be given to the National Transportation Safety Board for testing and a 20-year review of any problems along Line 6B of the 1,900-mile Lakehead System be provided.

The rest of the line also was ordered evaluated.

No cause has yet been determined for the spill. On Wednesday, the Free Press found two PHMSA reports from early this year raising concerns about aspects of the Lakehead System - one about the safety of the particular kind of pre-1970 pipe that was used at the site of a spill in North Dakota and another questioning corrosion monitoring systems along the same line, 6B, where the west Michigan spill occurred.

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