Two years ago this week an oil pipeline owned by Canadian-based Enbridge oil company and operated by Enbridge Energy Partners ruptured spilling more than a million gallons of “dilbit” crude oil into the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Michigan. (“Dilbit” is short for diluted bitumen. Bitumen is a thick, sticky form of crude that must be diluted with chemicals such as benzene to get it to flow through a pipeline.)
The spill was one of the largest pipeline spills in U.S. history and some estimates put Enbridge’s cleanup costs at nearly $1 billion. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently issued a scathing report on the events surrounding the spill (a summary of which can be accessed here) and the EPA hit Enbridge with a $3.7 million fine. More information about the spill and cleanup can be viewed on the EPA’s website and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s website.
Shortly after the spill happened, Dawda Mann joined forces with AKT Peerless and Albion College to provide a van load of supplies (detergent, Tyvek suits, bottled water, etc) to local first responders that were assisting with the capture and cleanup of oil-coated wildlife. On the drive out to delivering the supplies, a strong “diesel” odor told us we were getting close and as we pulled up next to the river you could barely breathe. A gallery of some of the photos we took of the river and part of the cleanup effort is provided below.