Yet Another Oil Disaster … in Michigan

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The Gulf disaster is still far from over, even if members of the national press apparently need help finding the oil. But now there’s another oil disaster to worry about. Calhoun County, Michigan is in the midst of what might be the worst oil spill ever in the Midwest.

At least 19,000 barrels of crude leaked from an oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy of Canada into the Talmadge Creek sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning. The creek leads to the Kalamazoo River, a major waterway that feeds into Lake Michigan. Already, the spill has spread 16 miles downriver. Gov. Jennifer Granholm declared the area a disaster zone on Tuesday night.

The Michigan Messenger is on the story, reporting that there seems to have been a significant lag time between when local residents first reported the spill and when the company officially acknowledged it. There’s also some discrepancy between the company’s estimate of the spill (19,000 barrels) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (23,800 barrels). Imagine that …

More disturbing? Apparently this is a regular event for Enbridge:

This is not the first time the Canadian oil company has had contact with PHMSA officials. Documents from the agency show that Enbridge Energy pipelines have leaked oil on 12 different occasions in Michigan since 2002.

Most of those leaks were very small, between one and 25 barrels of oil (each barrel contains 42 gallons). But in three cases the company’s pipeline spewed 100, 120 and 500 barrels into the surrounding area. None of the spills caused injuries or death, PHMSA documents show. Those 12 cases caused a total of more than $810,000 in property damage.

Mind you, Louisiana also had to deal with another gusher yesterday as a tug boat struck a wellhead, spewing oil and natural gas 100 feet into the air.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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