EPA Responds to Enbridge Kalamazoo River Spill

EPA has assumed the role of federal on-scene coordinator in response to the Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. In that role, EPA will coordinate the response activities carried out by federal and state officials and will direct the response efforts carried out by Enbridge Inc.

EPA has responsibility under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 for this spill because it happened inland, rather than offshore.

“EPA and other federal and state agencies mobilized immediately in response to this spill and have taken a series of steps to minimize the damage this spill does to the river and surrounding communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This is a serious spill that has the potential to damage a vital waterway and threatens public health. Staff from EPA’s regional and headquarters office are on the scene and ensuring the leaked oil is contained and cleaned up as quickly and effectively as possible.”

On July 26, a 30-inch pipeline belonging to Enbridge Inc. burst in Marshall, Mich., releasing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek, a waterway that feeds the Kalamazoo River. The spill has affected up to 25 miles of the Kalamazoo River. The spill site, located between Marshall and Battle Creek, includes marshlands, residential areas, farmland and businesses.

While the oil leak has stopped, this incident is far from over. EPA believes over 1 million gallons of oil may have leaked into the river. The Kalamazoo River is a fast-moving river and EPA’s focus right now is on preventing oil from the Enbridge spill from affecting sensitive shorelines and, ultimately, keeping the oil out of Lake Michigan.

EPA – and Enbridge, at the agency’s direction – are taking action to contain and clean up the oil. In addition to work on the river, other steps include:

  • Launching air monitoring in the area to determine what impact, if any, the spill is having on air quality.
  • Issuing of a field order by EPA outlining clear lines of authority for federal and state responders and naming EPA as the on-scene coordinator.
  • Requesting the U.S. Coast Guard make $2 million available to fund the federal government’s operations in response to the spill. EPA can request additional funding if it determines more is needed. The federal government intends to seek full reimbursement for all money spent on this response from Enbridge Inc.
  • Moving additional vessels into the area within days to assist in the response.
  • Launching a web site, http://www.epa.gov/enbridgespill, that contains information about the agency’s activities. EPA also will post data from ongoing air monitoring as it becomes available.
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