I didn't know how people in Louisiana and Florida felt about the Gulf spill. Its something you can't feel until it happens close to you, and this time, it did.
The oil spill in Marshall, Michigan is just a couple hours from me- and more significantly- the spill could impact Lake Michigan. Although no one wants to think about it or says its possible, the breaches that have already taken place suggest that the pipeline owner, Enbridge, has very little control and isn't doing enough to stop the slick from moving down the Kalamazoo River.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, lessons have already been learned via the Gulf spill. Almost immediately, the State of Michigan got the EPA, Coast Guard, and other federal and state agencies on board.
The spill originated from a 30" diameter pipeline that carries crude from NW Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario- some 190,000 barrels per day. In documents, the company appears to know that the pipe needed replacement- as recent as July 15- and that metal was coming out of oil that was being piped, a sign of corrosion.
Like every oil spill response, it can't be fast enough or do enough, but this time around- like the Gulf- it feels like the pipeline company, Enbridge, is mucking along with virtually no plan. It seems the company doesn't care much about getting the problem resolved- under planning and under managing, which is why Michigan officials have scoffed at their response. Michigan Governor Granholm has called the response from Enbridge "wholly inadequate."
While Lake Michigan is still some 70+ miles away from the current front of the spill, with the barriers the oil has already breached, the company and State of Michigan should be planning days ahead to stop this before it impacts one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. For the third straight day, Enbridge had claimed they were bringing in additional manpower and equipment over the previous day, something that tells me either they aren't being truthful or they're realizing the scope is getting worse.
According to an
Associated Press story, "in 2007, two spills released about 200,000 gallons of crude in northern Wisconsin as Enbridge was expanding a 320-mile pipeline. The company also was accused of violating Wisconsin permits designed to protect water quality during work in and around wetlands, rivers and streams, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said. The violations came during construction of a 321-mile, $2 billion oil pipeline across that state. Enbridge agreed to pay $1.1 million in 2009."
I have a feeling this company needs to have the unfortunate incident of this in their backyard- until then they will not understand the importance and speed that us Michigan residents want this cleaned up, or more importantly- stopped short of Lake Michigan- then cleaned up. It's not over yet- since oil has breached a "last stand" dam, there are two more dams before the oil could reach Lake Michigan. I haven't lost hope yet... but it certainly seems to be fading.