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Enbridge oil spill sickened hundreds, according to a new report

Clean up workers along the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek in August, 2010
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
Clean up workers along the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek in August, 2010

A new report finds last July’s massive oil spill in mid-Michigan sickened many people, but the long-term effects of exposure to the spill is unclear. 

The Michigan Department of Community Health worked with local health departments in Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties to compile data on people who were affected by the Enbridge Energy oil spill.

More than 800 thousand gallons of crude oil leaked from a pipeline near Marshall, eventually flowing downstream through Battle Creek.  The clean-up continues, though much of the oil has been recovered. 

Martha Stanbury is with the state department of Community Health.  She says hundreds of people, mainly from four Calhoun County communities, reported becoming ill after inhaling fumes from the spill, though the health complaints eased as the oil was cleaned-up. 

“In general, this is what we expected that they would be transient. And hopefully people are able to go about their lives.”

Stanbury says health officials’ main concern is about possible benzene exposure in the spill zone. 

Well testing and other clean-up activities are expected to continue for years to come. 

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