By TIM MARTIN, Associated Press Writer
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Federal officials now estimate that more than 1 million gallons of oil may have spilled into a major river in southern Michigan, and the governor is sharply criticizing clean-up efforts as “wholly inadequate.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the update Wednesday night, shortly after Gov. Jennifer Granholm lambasted attempts to contain the oil flowing down the Kalamazoo River. She warned of a “tragedy of historic proportions” if the oil reaches Lake Michigan, which is still at least 80 miles downstream from where oil has been seen.
Granholm called on the federal government for more help, saying resources being marshaled by the EPA and Enbridge Inc., which owns the pipeline that leaked the oil, were “wholly inadequate.”
Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge said earlier Wednesday that it had redoubled its efforts to clean up the mess. Chief executive Patrick D. Daniel said the company had made “significant progress,” though he had no update on a possible cause, cost or timeframe for the cleanup. The company didn’t return messages for comment after Granholm’s statements.
The overall work force on the spill Wednesday was likely more than 400 people.
EPA officials said they’re ramping up efforts with air and water testing. Local officials said they weren’t concerned about municipal water supplies.
Houston-based Enbridge Energy Co. spilled almost 19,000 gallons of crude oil onto Wisconsin’s Nemadji River in 2003. Another 189,000 gallons of oil spilled at the company’s terminal two miles from Lake Superior, though most was contained.
In 2007, two spills released about 200,000 gallons of crude in northern Wisconsin as Enbridge was expanding a 320-mile pipeline. The company also was accused of violating Wisconsin permits designed to protect water quality during work in and around wetlands, rivers and streams, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said. The violations came during construction of a 321-mile, $2 billion oil pipeline across that state. Enbridge agreed to pay $1.1 million in 2009.
The Michigan leak came from a 30-inch pipeline, which was built in 1969 and carries about 8 million gallons of oil daily from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.
The river already faced major pollution issues.
An 80-mile segment of the river that begins at Morrow Lake and five miles of a tributary, Portage Creek, have unsafe levels of PCBs and were placed on the federal Superfund list of high-priority hazardous waste sites in 1990. The Kalamazoo site also includes four landfills and several defunct paper mills.
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