EPA finds submerged oil, orders Enbridge to file new Michigan clean up plan by Oct. 20


A map issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency showing pockets of submerged oil found in the Kalamazoo River during summer 2011 cleanup operations (EPA) Click on map for larger version.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Enbridge to “to take additional steps to clean up the July 2010 oil spill that damaged over 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River system.”

directive requires Enbridge to submit plans by Oct. 20, 2011 “for
cleanup and monitoring work expected to last through 2012”. EPA news release.  Failure to comply could result in civil penalties.

The local newspaper the Battle Creek Courier quotes an EPA official as saying agency has learned a lot in the 14 months since the Enbridge pipeline burst, contaminating five acres of land, part of Talmadge Creek and 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River. The order was based on what the EPA has learned in the past few months.

“As we get near the end of the active submerged oil recovery, we’ll have to have systems in place long-term to do long-term maintenance,” Ralph Dollhopf, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator told the paper. “So we’ve taken all of these elements and packaged them into a set of expectations — specific tasks that Enbridge has to perform through 2012.”

Most of the remaining oil is submerged at the bottom of the Kalamazoo River or on about 200 riverbank sites that haven’t had work done yet, Dollhopf told the paper.

The EPA also is asking Enbridge to install “passive collection devices” in areas where oil commonly accumulates in the river, Dollhopf said. Oil remaining in the river tends to mass at natural deposit points — most commonly near dammed areas.

The EPA says the work will continue to the end of 2012 and even into 2013 if necessary to remove as much remaining oil as it can without harming the environment.

Some parts of the river may be reopened to the public in 2012.

 An Enbridge spokesman, Jason Manshum said in an email to the Michigan paper “Enbridge has committed since the outset of this incident to restore the area as close as possible to its pre-existing condition, and to the satisfaction of the U.S. EPA, Michigan DEQ and the local community. We remain fully committed to that goal.”

The EPA situation report says that after a year of extensive cleanup work in the Kalamazoo River system. the EPA  identified pockets of submerged oil in three areas covering approximately 200 acres that require cleanup…

To date, more than 766,000 gallons of oil have been recovered and 113,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris have been sent to EPA-approved disposal facilities. Enbridge will be required to repay the government for all response costs.

Work during the summer of 2011 was focused on:

  •     Revisiting shoreline areas cleaned up in 2010 where winter weather and spring floods exposed previously unseen oil or spill impacts.
  •     Excavating oil contaminated soil and weathered tarry oil from the overbank areas.
  •     Recovering pockets of submerged oil in the sediment. EPA has identified three major submerged oil areas including the delta leading into Morrow Lake.

Michigan cleanup by the numbers

  • 766,288 gallons of oil recovered
  • 6 million gallons of oil/water collected and disposed
  • 144,942 cubic yards soil/debris disposed
  • 783 personnel on site
  • $33.9 million costs to date

Source EPA, Sept. 16, 2011