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EPA says 'No' to Enbridge oil spill cleanup extension request

The Environmental Protection Agency has rejected Enbridge’s request to extend the deadline to cleanup up part of an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River.

The EPA ordered Enbridge to do additional dredging in five parts of the Kalamazoo River where there are still significant deposits of crude oil from the 2010 oil spill near Marshall.   A broken pipeline leaked more than 800 thousand gallons of crude oil into the river.

Enbridge expects to complete work on four of the five sites well before the EPA’s December deadline.

But public opposition to the company’s cleanup plan is stalling work on the fifth site.

Enbridge requested an extension into 2014.   But the EPA sent Enbridge a letter this week saying no to an extension.

The EPA blames Enbridge for the problems holding up the work suggesting Enbridge should have looked at different options for handling waste from the dredge site.  The letter also suggests Enbridge has dragged its feet getting a necessary state permit.

In his letter to Enbridge, Jeffrey Kimble, EPA’s onsite coordinator,  acknowledges Enbridge’s concerns about public opposition to their plan to use land in Comstock township for part of their cleanup work.   But he argues that shouldn’t be a reason for an extension: 

Although there has been some isolated, yet intense, public resistance to the dredge pad location Enbridge has selected for the Delta, many citizens of that community have informed U.S. EPA that they want the oil removed from the river and they want the removal activities to be completed soon and not extend into next summer so they can regain their use of this area and have their lives return to normal. U.S. EPA believes that delaying the dredge activities in the Delta area of Morrow Lake will have undesired consequences as it is likely that oil will continue to move out into Morrow Lake.

An Enbridge spokesman says the company plans to respond soon the EPA.

There are also two public hearings next week which may decide if Enbridge will get the local permits it needs. 

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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