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Published: Monday, 10/10/2011

Rest of 2010 oil spill reported on Michigan river bottom


MARSHALL, Mich. -- Most of the estimated 40,000 gallons of crude oil remaining from a West Michigan pipeline leak last year is sitting along the bottom of the Kalamazoo River and at about 200 riverbank sites, according to an official of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Cleanup work has yet to be done on those riverbanks, Ralph Dollhopf, EPA on-scene coordinator, told the Battle Creek Enquirer.

More than 800,000 gallons originally spilled into the river and Talmadge Creek near Marshall, about 60 miles east of Grand Rapids, from a pipeline owned by Enbridge Inc.

"We're projecting work into 2012, which is another year, but you need to understand that most of the oil has been collected," Mr. Dollhopf said.

"We are continuing to emphasize that we feel it's important to stay on this and to collect as much suboil as possible without going over the balance point of doing more environmental harm than is warranted."

About 766,000 gallons of oil has been collected since the July, 2010, spill.

The pipeline runs from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ont.

Enbridge, based in Canada, has said it was increasing its estimate of the cleanup cost by about 20 percent to $700 million.

Enbridge has been given until Oct. 20 to submit revised plans for additional cleanup work.

"As we get near the end of the active submerged oil recovery, we'll have to have systems in place long term to do long-term maintenance," Mr. Dollhopf said.

The spill released enough oil to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool with roughly 180,000 gallons left over.

Preliminary testing of the ruptured pipe found surface cracks and indications of corrosion.

The Enbridge pipeline was installed in the 1960s and is part of a system that was inspected by federal officials prior to the leak.

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