Some recent announcements have meant both good and not-so-good news regarding the 840,000-gallon oil spill in Battle Creek last year.
The not-so good news? Enbridge maintains that the spill was unforeseeable, even though the pipeline is carrying tar sands oil. Oil production from tar sands is a controversial method of acquiring fuel that requires more effort than crude; tar sands oil comes mixed with clay, sand and water that must be removed. Transportation of this type of oil has been shown to increase the risk of breakage to traditional pipeline systems due to the more corrosive chemical content.
If that weren’t enough, extraction of tar sands oil is destroying the Canadian boreal forest, a carbon-sequestration powerhouse. Despite evidence that tar sands oil extraction is detrimental to the environment and potentially dangerous, earlier this month the Canadian company announced plans to replace 75 miles of pipeline between Sarnia, Ontario and Griffin, Indiana, meaning that the company will continue moving the oil through Michigan in an irresponsible way.
And the good news? Just days after Enbridge’s announcement, 15 turtles were released back into the river after a nearly 10-month rehabilitation, the last of 2,400 turtles rescued after the spill. Since August, 90 birds and 35 mammals have been rehabilitated and released. Each released turtle contains a microchip that will enable researchers to study long-term effects on the health of the animals. More good news: 42 turtle hatchlings were born at the rehab facility this spring and will be released into the river this fall.
While the spill site has been deemed clean enough to support animal life again, state and federal agencies are continuing research on the safety of the Kalamazoo River for human use. Assessment teams under the direction of the U.S. EPA and the DEQ monitor the Kalamazoo River shoreline and riverbed for residual oil at regular intervals. Water and sediment testing will be conducted by local health departments and the results are expected this summer. In the meantime, swimming and fish consumption advisories for the area are still in effect.
Public Health Advisories: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3313_56784-256270–,00.html
Tar Sands Pipeline Safety Risks (PDF) http://news.change.org/stories/enbridge-oil-spill-aftermath-is-a-mess-for-area-residents
Enbridge’s Spill Response Site: http://response.enbridgeus.com/response/default.aspx