Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Enbridge Oil Spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River


Role in Michigan Oil Spill

What is the Service's role in spill response?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) role in the Kalamazoo/Enbridge Oil Spill Response was to provide technical advice on natural resource and wildlife issues to U.S. EPA and the Unified Command (UC) and to oversee recovery, rehabilitation and release of wildlife that were oiled. The Service provided immediate information to the UC on how to minimize oil spill response impacts to wildlife and sensitive habitats and on daily observations that wildlife response teams were making in the field. The Service also provided rapid reviews of response and restoration plans that Enbridge submitted to U.S. EPA. Finally, the Service worked in partnership with other federal and state agencies to collect and analyze evidence of impacts to natural resources and wildlife as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), see below.

In the initial stages of the Enbridge oil spill response, Service and Michigan DNR specialists were among the first responders to recover oiled wildlife. Service biologists and law enforcement agents responded to calls and captured oil wildlife until the Enbridge assets were fully mobilized. The Service provided leadership and oversight, in partnership with Michigan DNR, for wildlife recovery and for operations at the Wildlife Response Center, where oiled wildlife were treated and prepared for release. More information on the wildlife response is available in a Wildlife Response Narrative (PDF).

What is the Service's role in addressing the damages caused by a spill?

In addition to their spill response activities, the Service works in partnership with other federal , state, and tribal governmental agencies to collect and analyze evidence of spill impacts to natural resources, including wildlife, as part of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA).

What is NRDA?

Federal and state statutes authorize federal, state, and tribal governments to seek compensation on behalf of the public for natural resources injured or destroyed when areas becomes contaminated with oil or is impacted by oil spill response. NRDA is the process to do that. The goals of NRDA are two-fold:

  1. Restore the habitats and resources to the condition they would have been had the oil spill not occurred (this includes the oil itself as well as all the associated response actions),
  2. To compensate the public for their lost use and enjoyment of natural resources.
Photo from survey. USFWS Photo. Checking status of fish. USFWS Photo. Staff surveying river. USFWS Photo. Oiled birds. USFWS Photo.

Who are the Trustees for this site?

The Trustees for this site includes 6 State and Federal agencies and 2 Tribes. They are:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • Michigan Attorney General
  • Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
  • Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi

What do Trustees do and what are some specific things Trustees have done at the site?

Trustees work in partnership with one another to achieve the goals of NRDA in part, by seeking compensation from the Responsible Party (i.e. Enbridge). Within days of the spill, Trustees began collecting data in order to understand the impact from this spill to habitat and biota. Trustees have collected data on water, fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, mussels, vegetation, sediment, oiled wildlife recovery and rehabilitation, recreational closures and impacts of the response actions. Initially, the Trustees collected data to identify and quantify short-term and long-term impacts to natural resources cooperatively with Enbridge. By planning studies and collecting data in integrated teams, both sides can be equally confident in the results. The Trustees have developed a separate website specifically for the NRDA, and more detailed information on the progress and results of the NRDA can be found there.

2011 Update from the Wildlife Response Center

The wildlife recovery center in Marshall, MI was closed because such a large facility was not needed as the number of oiled wildlife had declined in 2011. The new facility in Battle Creek is smaller while still meeting the needs of oiled wildlife. Wildlife recovery and rehabilitation operations are still underway and will continue until at least September 2011. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources continue to provide oversight.

Turtles with only a light sheen are being cleaned in the field. Turtles moderately-heavily oiled are brought back to the wildlife recovery center as they require a greater effort to clean. There have been no other types of wildlife (e.g. birds, mammals, etc) collected in 2011.

Enbridge Hotline

If anyone sees dead or alive wildlife impacted by the oil, they should call the Enbridge Oil Spill Hotline at 1-800-306-6837. The Hotline operators will convey the information to trained crews so that the crews can recover the animal.

Summary of Wildlife Activities 7/28/2010 through 7/13/2011*

  Collected Dead on Arrival Died in Care Released In Care Survival (%)
Amphibians 53 0 0 53 0 100.0%
Birds 196 25 27 144 0 73.5%
Crustaceans 7 3 2 2 0 28.6%
Mammals 63 25 15 23 0 36.5%
Reptiles 3651 18 65 3521 47 97.7%
Total 3970 71 109 3743 47 95.5%

* Only reptiles have been collected during 2011. Data summary provided by Stantec, working under contract to Enbridge, and still subject to agency review.

View past reports and more information...

turtle1 turtle2 Animal rehabilitation after contact with oil. MI DNRE photo. August 2nd, 2010. Animal rehabilitation after contact with oil. MI DNRE photo. August 2nd, 2010. Animal rehabilitation after contact with oil. MI DNRE photo. August 2nd, 2010. Animal rehabilitation after contact with oil. MI DNRE photo. August 2nd, 2010. Animal rehabilitation after contact with oil. MI DNRE photo. August 2nd, 2010. Animal rehabilitation after contact with oil. MI DNRE photo. August 2nd, 2010. Valdo Calvert wildlife branch director speaks to reporters about wildlife collection and rehabilitation. Two turtles were released into a pond at binder park zoo on August 2nd. USFWS Photo. Wildlife operations plan terrestrial and aquatic wildlife recovery activities on August 3rd. USFWS Photo. Members of the Wildlife Recovery operations flush a Canada Goose, at the recovery center in Marshall, Michigan, July 28, 2010. USFWS Photo.

Media Links

First Bird Release - WDIV Detroit

Southern Michigan faces long recovery after oil spill - Toledo Blade

Chasing geese in Marshall - Battle Creek Enquirer

In Search of Oiled Geese - Battle Creek Enquirer


Public Hotline / Report Oiled Wildlife: 800-306-6837

Press Information: 888-EMD-TODAY 888-363-8632

Want to help? Volunteer Hotline:
In Calhoun County - dial 2-1-1
Other areas - 800-306-6837
online: www.handsonbc.com

Last updated: August 6, 2015