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EPA revises estimate for oil collected in Enbridge pipeline break

There’s a new estimate of the amount of oil that’s been sucked out of the  Kalamazoo River.  And it’s higher than the amount of oil Enbridge Energy claims leaked from its pipeline 16 months ago.  

Enbridge Energy claims a little more than 843 thousand gallons of crude oil leaked from its pipeline near Marshall in July, 2010. But the Environmental Protection Agency says it has recovered more than 1.1 million gallons of oil from the Kalamazoo River during the 16 month cleanup. The EPA says it’s still investigating how much oil leaked from Enbridge’s pipeline.  

An Enbridge spokesman said the additional 300 thousand gallons of oil is not from the pipeline. He claims the extra oil is from other sources,  including non-petroleum organic materials, and other potential petroleum-based products in the river.  

By the way, the cleanup is far from finished. There are still large submerged deposits of oil in three different sections of the Kalamazoo River. 

The EPA is still reviewing Enbridge’s revised plan which calls for cleanup operations to continue well into 2012. 

Here's the EPA's statement on the new number on the amount of oil recovered:

EPA has updated its websitewith the Agency's current estimate of the amount of oil that has been recovered.

 As of October 31st, EPA estimates that over 1.1 million gallons of oil have been recovered from all the waste streams, including oily water, soil, sediment and debris.

The cleanup and investigation of the Enbridge oil spill are ongoing.

EPA continues to investigate how much oil Enbridge discharged at the site.

EPA cannot state at this time how much oil Enbridge discharged.


An Enbridge spokesman released this statement:

Enbridge still estimates that 843,444 gallons of crude oil was released from Line 6B near Marshall.

The 1,139,569 gallons of oil recovered as stated on the U.S. EPA website is calculated and reported weekly by Enbridge and is a culmination of everything collected during cleanup of the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek – the product released from Line 6B, non-petroleum organic materials, and other potential petroleum-based products in the river. There are a number of conservative factors involved in calculating this number that we believe contribute to an overestimation of the total amount collected.

 The work completed over the summer and fall successfully removed the majority of submerged oil. We are currently doing additional work to better calculate the volume of oil remaining in the river.

 The estimated amounts of oil collected is a testament to the success of cleanup and remediation efforts to date.


Here is some additional background on the Enbridge oil spill:

The number was originally reported at more than 1 million gallons after the oil spilled in July of 2010.

That estimate was revised downward to around 800,000 gallons weeks after the original spill.

Shortly after the spill, Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williamsspoke with Peter Adriaens, an expert on oil spill cleanup, and a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Michigan.

Adriaens said then that it would be impossible to remove all the oil spilled:

"Cleanup does not mean that everything will be removed from the environment. It means that all the exposure to toxic constituents of the oil has been stopped. And because we will not be able to find necessarily all of that oil I mean people will and kids might at some point in the future find some of these hot spots. We are finding hotspots from spills from a long time ago."



Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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