It’s been a little over a year since close to a million gallons of oil tar sands oil fouled the Kalamazoo River in Michigan’s largest ever oil spill (Wikipedia entry for the spill). The Environment Report from Michigan Radio has an excellent three-part feature titled Life on the Kalamazoo River: One Year After the Spill that explores what life along the river is like for those who have stayed, how the oil is impacting wildlife and the legal action that is underway against Enbridge Energy, the company responsible for the spill. Rebecca Williams of the the Environment Report explains:
It was the largest inland oil spill in Midwest history… but we still don’t know exactly what it will mean for life around the river.
One year ago, a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy broke. More than 840-thousand gallons of tar sands oil polluted Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.
People who were there say the river ran black. Turtles, and muskrats and Great blue herons were covered in oil. It’s not clear what all this will mean for the river and the wildlife that depends on it.
“It’s really a big unknown. We don’t have much experience with oil spills in freshwater rivers in general.” Stephen Hamilton is a professor at Michigan State University. “This new kind of crude, the tar sands crude oil, with its different chemistry, all makes this a learning experience for everybody involved.”
Tar sands oil is very thick, and it has to be diluted in order to move through pipelines. We’ve previously reported that federal officials say the nature of this oil has made the cleanup more difficult. In fact, the cleanup has lasted longer than many people expected. The Environmental Protection Agency says there are still significant amounts of submerged oil along 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River.
There’s much more at the Environment Report.