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10 Years Later: The Kalamazoo River Oil Spill


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It's hard to believe that is has been ten years since one of the worst inland oil spill disasters in this country's history.

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill

On July 26, 2020, about one million gallons of crude oil from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada spilled out of Enbridge's Line 6B into Talmadge Creek, near Marshall, MI. This creek is a tributary of the Kalamazoo River, and the subsequent damage contaminated 35 miles of the river and its surrounding watershed. The significance of this oil spill is not lost on Michiganders, and indeed, residents of the entire Great Lakes Region, as the debate rages on about what to do about another notorious Enbridge pipeline, Line 5, that runs beneath the straights of Mackinac.

You can find lots of articles and history on the spill without too much trouble. I am sharing just one such article here, from the perspective of the local Native American tribe that was possibly the most impacted (seems to be usually be the case) - the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi.

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The Great Stain: 10 Years after the Kalamazoo River oil spill
Second Wave Media | On the Ground: Battle Creek
July 27, 2020

Most of us in southern Michigan, including the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP), knew that we shared our area with pipelines, but few of us knew much about them. On July 26, 2010, that changed forever. What had been silently beneath our feet delivering crude oil to refineries since the late 1960s suddenly became front and center in our collective consciousness, particularly that of the Tribe’s...

 

 

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Here's another recent bit of coverage about the Kalamazoo oil spill and its aftermath.

 

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The Kalamazoo River Oil Spill 10 Years Later

Gordon Evans | WMUK

July 24, 2020

 

10 years ago, a massive oil spill near Marshall polluted about 30 miles of the Kalamazoo River. We have taken a look back at what happened to line 6-B and what followed over the next decade…

 

(link to audio)

 

 

Interestingly (sadly?) the river is now struggling with another potential environmental disaster at the Morrow Lake Dam...

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The Morrow Dam Drawdown Is Polluting The Kalamazoo River

Sehvilla Mann | WMUK

June 27, 2020

The company that operates Morrow Dam near Comstock faces a state investigation for letting large amounts of sediment wash into the Kalamazoo River, endangering fish habitats and possibly kicking up contaminants, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy…

(link to audio)

 

 

Whenever I think about how under-utilized and under-appreciated the natural features of this area are, I have to remember that there is a tough history and legacy of pollution that people are still fighting to fix. In addition to the above problems, all of the decades of contamination from the heavy industry (especially paper manufacturing) along the river and its many tributaries still has lasting effects today.

Edited by deja vu
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