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As seasons change, so do cleanup efforts in Kalamazoo River

Recovery of submerged oil on Morrow Lake in June of 2011.
EPA Region 5
Recovery of submerged oil on Morrow Lake in June of 2011.

Enbridge Energy says it’s done cleaning up oil that sank to the bottomof the Kalamazoo River until next spring.

“That doesn’t mean cleanup is done for the year it’s just going from one phase into another,” company spokemans Jason Manshum said.

Federal regulators estimate there were 200 acres of submerged oilat the beginning of last summer. Manshum says crews have cleaned up “the majority” of the oil that sank underwater, but he says it’s hard to determine exactly how much oil is left.

“Some areas where we found submerged oil at that given moment – that snapshot in time – may be completely gone by the time we get there because it’s moved to another location,” Manshum said. He says the company will reassess the river bottom this spring and tackle the remaining submerged oil then. He says samples of the river bottom are being analyzed now. But it’s not clear when they’ll get the results.

In the meantime Manshum says crews are switching their focus to cleaning up on land. They’ll focus on the flood plains where oil could have reached during the spill. He doesn’t know whether cleanup efforts will be more or less intense than last winter.

More than 840,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the company’s broken pipelinenear Marshall in July of 2010.

The full cleanup process is expected to take years. Enbridge estimates the total cleanup costs at around $700 million.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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