Enbridge Oil Spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River
Natural Resource Trustees Continue to Assess Damage Related to 2010 Spill in Kalamazoo River
More than a year after over 800,000 gallons of oil spilled into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River near Marshall, Michigan, tribal and government agencies, acting as trustees for injured natural resources, continue to conduct studies and surveys to assess the amount of damage to fish, wildlife and habitat. The trustees’ activities are part of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) that will result in restoration of the resources and resource services lost to the public as a result of the spill.
Representatives from the Service, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Attorney General, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi are working together as the Trustee Council addressing injuries from the spill.
“Clean up of the oil is still ongoing," said Stephanie Millsap, Service Contaminants Specialist, who is coordinating the Service's NRDA efforts for this spill. "We continue to identify potential injuries and collect ephemeral data as part of our assessment effort."
Natural Resource Damage Assessment is the process used by federal, state and tribal governments to jointly seek compensation on behalf of the public for natural resources injured or destroyed when areas become contaminated with oil or other hazardous substances. The trustee agencies and tribes work to restore habitats and resources to pre-spill conditions, and to compensate the public for the lost use and enjoyment of the resources. Compensation is sought from the party responsible for the damage, in this case, Enbridge Energy.
The spill occurred in July 2010, when Enbridge Energy Partners LLP reported that a 30-inch pipeline had ruptured near Marshall, Michigan, releasing an estimated 819,000 gallons into Talmadge Creek, which flows into the Kalamazoo River. Heavy rains caused the river to overflow its banks and carried oil over 30 miles downstream on the Kalamazoo River and into adjacent floodplains.
Within days of the spill, trustees began collecting data to understand the spill’s impact, and the impact of response actions, on natural resources and recreational use values in and near the creek and river. Throughout the past year, the trustees have gathered information on water, fish, mussels, invertebrates such as insects and crustaceans, vegetation, recovery and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife, and recreational closures. Collection of data continues as trustees work to identify and quantify the spill’s impacts.
"As unfortunate as this spill was, it did showcase the incredible dedication of Service people in the Midwest Region and beyond," said Stephanie. "Across programs, Service employees responded to the call for help, assisting with wildlife response and recovery, field work associated with identifying potential injuries to Service trust resources, and other roles. This has truly been a team effort."
Once impacts are fully identified, trustees will begin restoration planning, identifying projects that benefit the same or similar resources that were injured by the spill. The public will have an opportunity for review and comment upon the draft assessment and restoration plan.