Enbridge Kalamazoo cleanup now set at $1.157 billion and growing

The cost of Enbridge’s cleanup from the spill at Marshall, Michigan in 2010 is now $1.157 billion the company said Friday as it released its second quarter results. That is an increase of $35 million from the estimates Enbridge released at the end of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014.

As of June, 2014, Enbridge faces possibly $30 million in fines and penalties from the United States government.

In its quarterly report Enbridge said

EEP   [Embridge Energy Partners] continues to perform necessary remediation, restoration and monitoring of the areas affected by the Line 6B crude oil release. All the initiatives EEP is undertaking in the monitoring and restoration phase are intended to restore the crude oil release area to the satisfaction of the appropriate regulatory authorities.

On March 14, 2013, as previously reported, the United States Environmental Protection Agency ordered in Enbridge to undertake “additional containment and active recovery of submerged oil relating to the Line 6B crude oil release.”

new Enbridge logoEnbridge says it has “completed substantially all of the EPA order, “with the exception of required dredging in and around Morrow Lake and its delta.”

“Approximately $30 million of the increase in the total cost estimate during the three months ended June 30, 2014 is primarily related to the finalization of the MDEQ approved Schedule of Work and other costs related to the on-going river restoration activities near Ceresco,” Enbridge reported.

Enbridge also said it is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality “to transition submerged oil reassessment, sheen management and sediment trap monitoring and maintenance activities from the EPA to the MDEQ, through a Kalamazoo River Residual Oil Monitoring and Maintenance Work Plan.”

Enbridge also said that costs may still go up, saying there continues to be the potential for “additional costs in connection with this crude oil release due to variations in any or all of the cost categories, including modified or revised requirements from regulatory agencies, in addition to fines and penalties and expenditures associated with litigation and settlement of claims.”

Enbridge said that “a majority of the costs incurred in connection with the crude oil release for Line 6B are covered by Enbridge’s comprehensive insurance policy…. which had an aggregate limit of  $650 million for pollution liability.” So far, Enbridge has recovered $547 million of the $650 million from its insurers. Enbridge is suing its insurers to recover the rest of the money.

That means that “Enbridge and its affiliates have exceeded the limits of their coverage under this insurance policy. Additionally, fines and penalties would not be covered under the existing insurance policy,” the company said.

Insurance renewed

Enbridge said it has “renewed its comprehensive property and liability insurance programs under which the Company is insured through April 30, 2015 with a liability aggregate limit of $700 million, including sudden and accidental pollution liability, with a deductible applicable to oil pollution events of $30 million per event, from the previous $10 million.”

It adds:

In the unlikely event multiple insurable incidents occur which exceed coverage limits within the same insurance period, the total insurance coverage will be allocated among Enbridge entities on an equitable basis based on an insurance allocation agreement among Enbridge and its subsidiaries.

All Enbridge figures are in US dollars

The Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel required Enbridge that “its Northern Gateway’s Financial Assurances Plan must provide a total coverage of $950 million for the costs of liabilities for, without limitation, cleanup, remediation, and other damages caused by the Project during the operations phase. The plan should include the following components and minimum coverage levels.” (That figure in Canadian dollars)

Kalamazoo River cleanup suspended as cold weather hits Michigan

Energy Environment

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Submerged oil cleanup finished in Kalamazoo River for the year
The newspaper quotes Jason Manshum, spokesman for Enbridge Energy Partners, as saying that the majority of submerged oil has been collected and crews are shifting to start winter cleanup. During the winter, the crews “will continue to address oil on the over banks of the river.”

Manshum added that because of dropping temperatures, the methods to extract submerged oil are not as effective

“However, there are still some remnants of submerged oil in the Kalamazoo River,” Manshum said. “The exact quantity is difficult to measure, but we are currently trying to calculate the remaining amount based on core samples from the river bottom. These core samples have been collected and are now being tested analytically to better understand the remnant amounts.”

The Gazette says that because the heavy biutmen sank to the bottom of the river and mixed with sediment, the crews had to innovate new methods to extract it.

This spring, the EPA identified about 200 acres of submerged oil in three areas: the Ceresco Dam; in Mill Pond, just east of Battle Creek; and where the Kalamazoo River enters Morrow Lake in Comstock Township. Manshum said that number is a snapshot of submerged oil at the time. Since the river is dynamic, the oil moved with the water at the bottom of the river.

Crews have removed oil from some areas of the river multiple times because of the movement, Manshum said. Enbridge and the EPA will continue to assess and clean the river until it is clean.

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

Micro organisms played key roles in Exxon Valdez, BP cleanup: study

Environment Link

A study by the U.S. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is reporting that microbes, mostly  bacteria, but also archaea (single cell organisms without a cell nucleus) and fungi, played key roles in mitigating both the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the  BP Deep Ocean Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a news release, Terry Hazen, microbial
ecologist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) says, “Responders to future oil spills would do well to mobilize as rapidly as
possible to determine both natural and enhanced microbial degradation
and what the best possible approach will be to minimize the risk and
impact of the spill on the environment.”

Hazen, who leads the Ecology Department and Center for Environmental
Biotechnology at Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and  has studied
microbial activity at both spill sites, published the paper with colleagues in Environmental Science & Technology. The paper is titled “Oil biodegradation and bioremediation: A tale of the two worst spills in U. S. history.”

The authors say that hydrocarbons have been leaking into the marine environment for millions of years and so “a large and diverse number of microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea and fungi, have evolved the ability to utilize these petroleum hydrocarbons as sources of food and energy for growth.”

Such microorganisms are only a small part of a pre-spill microbial community in any given ecosystem. Hazen says in both the Exxon Valdez and the BP Deepwater Horizon spills, the surge in the presence of crude oil sparked a sudden and dramatic surge in the presence of oil-degrading microorganisms that began to feed on the spilled oil.

“In the case of the Exxon Valdez spill, nitrogen fertilizers were applied to speed up the rates of oil biodegradation,” Hazen says. “In the case of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, dispersants, such as Corexit 9500, were used to increase the available surface area and, thus, potentially increase the rates of biodegradation,” he says.

According to the study, within a few weeks of the spill, about 25 to 30 per cent of the total
hydrocarbon in the oil originally stranded on Prince William Sound
shorelines had been degraded and by 1992, the length of shoreline still
containing any significant amount of oil was 6.4 miles, or about
1.3 per cent of the shoreline originally oiled in 1989.

Microorganisms also played a similar role in the Gulf of Mexico Deep Ocean Horizon disaster, despite major differences in the temperature, environment, ocean depth and length and type of spill, the study says.  Hazen and his research group were able to determine that indigenous
microbes, including a previously unknown species, degraded the oil plume
to virtually undetectable levels within a few weeks after the damaged
wellhead was sealed.

The study concludes that decisions as to whether to rely upon microbial oil biodegradation or whether to apply fertilizers, dispersants, detergents and/or/other chemicals used in environmental cleanup efforts, should be driven by risk and not just the presence of detectable hydrocarbons.

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