Community Reflects as Oil Spill's 2nd Anniversary Nears

Upstream Oil and Gas ActivitiesEnvironmental IssuesOil and Chemical SpillsBusinessEnvironmental PollutionEnbridge Incorporated

In late July 2010, Enbridge Incorporated found itself in serious trouble.

More than a million gallons of crude oil leaked from a pipe, contaminating several bodies of water in Calhoun County. The company was fined $3.7 million by the federal government.

Those affected by the spill gathered at River Recreation on Saturday to reflect while still holding
the company accountable.

"I just wanted to have a community event that was free for everybody, free hot dogs, free pop, and t-shirts and go carts. I just wanted them to have a good time,” John Bolenbaugh said.

"It's the two year anniversary of the oil spill, and it's really important to me that they're aware of what's going on,” he added.

Bolenbaugh has been one of the most vocal activists following the Enbridge oil spill. A 40 year old pipeline broke sending nearly a million gallons of crude oil into a nearby creek and into the Kalamazoo River.

Bolenbaugh was contracted to help clean up the oil. However, he blew the whistle after he says one of the companies contracted to do the work, SET environmental, told workers to cut corners and throw dirt on top of the oil.

He says this was under Enbridge’s directive. That's something Enbridge denies to this day.

The company bought 150 homes along the river from residents.

As of today, Enbridge says the vast majority of recoverable oil has been removed. Part of the river re-opened back in April for those who like to boat or kayak.

"Today, there may still be some small amounts of sheen on the water or some small pepper flecks of oil on the water,” Jason Manshum, Enbridge spokesperson said.

“But according to health studies by MDCH, the water's completely safe. There is nothing there to worry about for recreational users and we have had very good feedback in the last three or four weeks from people who have been using the river,” Manshum explained.

He says the company is still cleaning select parts of the river. However, they're in what he calls a "passive" clean up approach.

Instead of looking for oil to remove, workers let the oil flow to collection points along the river. Now the company is preparing to replace the line. The first of two phases has already been approved.

"Construction is starting here in just a couple of weeks. In that phase, the 75 miles will be completed by this fall,” Manshum explained.

Phase two of that new pipeline construction has not been approved yet. If and when it is, manshum says construction will start in spring 2013.

He said it'll be safer and allow Enbridge to reach more customers. Saturday, residents and others upset over the oil spill told FOX 17 they disapprove of this new pipeline.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times