On July 26, 2010, an estimated 20,000 barrels of crude oil leaked from Enbridge’s Line 6B pipeline near Marshall, Michigan. Oil from the spill entered Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality closed sections of the river system to public use, along with Morrow Lake, while clean-up operations were conducted.
The leak in Michigan was a humbling and dark day for our Company. We failed to deliver energy safely, which is not acceptable. We apologize for not living up to the expectations of our customers, communities and the public. At the time of the incident in July 2010, we immediately accepted full responsibility and committed to do whatever it took to make things right in the community, to fully understand what happened, and to do what was necessary to work with all parties to improve procedures and technology so that this wouldn’t happen again.
“They said they were actually not only going to get it back to normal, but make it better than what it was, was what I was told,” Battle Creek resident Kristin Whitworth recalled.
On June 21, 2012, the river was returned to its people—Morrow Lake and the Kalamazoo River were opened for recreational use. Enbridge produced the video above to show the beauty and splendor of a river system the people of the area are now enjoying again.
“It tells me that the clean-up has been successful to the point where we can reestablish a beautiful river environment and bring back not only the wildlife but the people are going to be back on the river and I think they’re going to be real happy with what they see,” Durk Dunham, Calhoun County Director of Emergency Management explained in the video.
Through community consultations with local residents, community leaders and recreation groups Enbridge learned that access to the river is a high priority. Our community investment efforts focused on increasing access and building new facilities like Saylor’s Landing, Paddlers Grove and Angler’s Bend. These access points have created additional recreation opportunities making the Kalamazoo River more available and accessible for Marshall-area residents and visitors to enjoy.
While the river has been reopened for recreational use, the clean-up work is not yet complete. The public may encounter ongoing work activities at several locations along the river. Locations with sediment traps, research equipment, or active work may have restricted access. The public could see oil sheen or flecks of oil in the river, even after sections open. Remaining oil found in the river is not hazardous upon incidental contact, according to the results of a study conducted by the Michigan Department of Community Health. In addition to ongoing remediation activities we have committed to monitoring the river system to ensure it has been returned to its pre-spill state.
“This is not something we want to erase from our memory,” said Steve Wouri, Enbridge President of Liquids Pipelines. “And that we not waste the opportunity to learn from an incident like this. So by no means do we want to forget this. We want to actually memorialize it.”
“It’s cleaner now than what it was before,” confirmed Jesse Jacox, a local resident and river enthusiast. “I’m satisfied that they’ve made the effort they have.”