[Updated with video]
With eyes and media attention still focused on the Gulf of Mexico and the largest oil spill in U.S. history, it’s no wonder little attention has been paid to, what some are calling, possibly the largest oil spill in the Midwest.
A 30-inch pipeline burst earlier this week and spilled some 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, which flows into the enormous Lake Michigan. The spill has reached 35 miles of the river and left animals and plants in and along the river coated with oil.
The owner of the pipeline, Enbridge Energy Partners, responded to the leak by placing 28,000 feet of boom and more than 300 clean-up workers at the site. Governor Jennifer M. Granholm criticized Enbridge officials, however, claiming there are too few workers on site for the size of the spill and that the oil had reached farther than previously known.
Other officials also questioned Enbridge’s response. Representative Mark Schauer, a Michigan Democrat, said he was angry that it took Enbridge several hours on Monday to report the leak after it was discovered. He said he feared that the leak may have started earlier on Sunday and that the amount of oil in the river could be much more than the company’s estimate.
The Environmental Protection Agency is involved and recently released a statement that the spill may have exceeded one million gallons. With Lake Michigan only 80 miles downstream from the spill, many are fearing the worst, including Gov. Granholm.
Granholm warned of a “tragedy of historic proportions” if the oil reaches Lake Michigan. “The last thing any of us want to see is a smaller version of what has happened in the Gulf,” Granholm said Wednesday. “From my perspective the response has been anemic.”
Enbridge’s President and CEO Patrick D. Daniel has taken responsibility for the spill, claiming, “This is our mess. We’re going to clean it up.” Hopefully that happens before the oil spreads to the Great Lakes.
Here’s a video of yet another oil disaster: