Oil Goose
Credit: Jonathon Gruenke

Oil covered goose in the Kalamazoo River

As if we haven’t faced enough oil spill problems in the past few months, on July 26, 2010, Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. saw a 30 inch pipeline burst releasing thousands of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Marchall, Mich. Since the Kalamazoo River is a fast moving waterway, EPA is currently trying to prevent the oil from affecting the shorelines. A state of disaster was declared on Tuesday, July 27.

So far, Enbridge does not know what caused the pipe to leak, but taking this and other spills into account, it goes to show that these pipelines are prone to rupture.

The flow of the oil was halted on July 28, but atleast 800,000 gallons of oil managed to spill into the creek that flows into the Kalamazoo River. So far the good weather hovering over Michigan seems to have clean up crews in good spirits about the process of removing the oil. Enbridge made a statement to double their workforce on the oil spill clean up on July 28. Currently 200 people are working on cleaning up the spill. Additionally, the amount of boom was double from 5 to 10 booms along the river. Enbridge also launched a website to keep people updated and provide information regarding the companies response to this spill.

Oil Spill
Credit: Jonathon Gruenke
Trying to contain the oil spill.

Embridge is currently working with Focus Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as several other groups to help the animals affected by the spill. So far over 60 calls have been made regarding animals affected by the spill to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. Additionally, Embridge set up their own hotline for individuals who spot animals affected by the spill.

The oil spill in Michigan caused action from Greenpeace against Enbridge’s Vancouver office with demands to halt building of a pipeline from Alberta to B.C. They even set up a mock oil spill on the sidewalk outside. Three of these protesters were then taken under arrest shortly after.

Not only is this new oil spill rallying protestors and environmental groups, but it will likely put a shadow over Enbridge’s upcoming projects. With their upcoming prehearings for a proposed pipeline between B.C. to Alberta and their Northern Gateway Project, Enbridge may have a tough road ahead of them to get acceptance for these projects.

Considering the amount of damage that has been caused by oil spills all over the United States in this part year, a lot of things need to be taken into thought before even considering accepting these projects. Taking into account BP’s oil spill and their motto of doing “no damage to the environment” and Enbridge’s inability to prevent leaks, something needs to be done.

The concern for the environment is dire now, for all animals, shorelines and waterways involved in the oil spills that have taken place already this year. The truth is that oil and energy companies cannot prevent oil spills across all of their pipelines. Oil spills occur regularly due to human error, mechanical failure and natural disasters.

In the United States alone in 2010, 300,000 – 600,000 tonnes of oil spilled into our waters. The Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which led to 60,000 barrels of oil per day to be leaked is now the number one oil disaster in U.S. history.

Regardless of the environmental damage, which should be enough to stop this on it's own, isn't oil supposed to be a limited resource? Yet, we're allowing this to continue?

There is a two-sided question that remains. 1) When will this stop? or 2) Where and when will the next oil spill disaster occur?