WSW: Avoiding Catastrophe, "This Was Bad Enough"

Jun 1, 2017

Kalamazoo River - file photo
Credit WMUK

A National Wildlife Federation Pipeline Specialist says an oil spill like one on the Kalamazoo River seven years would be “a Flint-sized disaster” if it happened on the Great Lakes.

A new video looks back at the massive oil spill in 2010. It includes Bell’s Brewery founder Larry Bell, former Congressman Mark Schauer, acting president of the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council Kenneth Kornheiser and John LaForge, a homeowner in Talmadge Creek, near the oil spill. Beth Wallace, Pipeline Specialist with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Center, says a second video will be released soon about the long term impacts of the oil spill.

The Enbridge Energy pipeline ruptured near Marshall in July of 2010. Wallace says the at-fault party (in this case Enbridge) is responsible for dealing with health effects. But Wallace says in this case, the trade secrets of the company took precedent over the health of workers. So first responders could not tell doctors what they were exposed too. Wallace says while fines have been assessed against Enbridge, they have never been required to conduct a long-term study on health impacts.

Wallace says some major questions remain unanswered seven years later. She it’s hard to know how much oil remains in the river. Enbridge says 840,000 gallons was spilled. The EPA says more than a million gallons was recovered. She says with settlements now reached with the federal and state government, finding answers could become more difficult. T

he video is part of the National Wildlife Federation’s page on Line 5 that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. That pipeline is also operated by Enbridge, and many groups have called for it to be shut down. Wallace says the video was released now in part to draw more attention to the potential for an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac. She says it’s also a warning to communities that have pipelines running through their area. She says the lines that carry heavy products pose a risk.