While the nation’s attention is focused on the oil disaster in the Gulf, the Great Lakes region is experiencing its own spill, which could wreak havoc not only on the stream into which the oil has been spilled, but also the Kalamazoo River and possibly beyond into Lake Michigan.
On July 26 a leak from a 30-inch pipeline was discovered spewing oil into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Over 800,000 gallons were estimated to have leaked. The pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Partners transports 8 million gallons per day from Griffith, Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario. The cause of the leak has not been determined.
Governor Granholm has declared a state of disaster for the county and has called the company’s response to the spill “anemic.” “There needs to be a lot more done. There are not enough resources right now on the river to contain the spill to the level we’d like to see” commented the Governor.
This is a major reminder that we can’t let our guard down in the protection of our amazing water resources in the Great Lakes region. Not only the oil wells themselves, but the pipelines through which the oil travels must be managed as the potential hazards that they represent.
Environmental groups have worked so hard to bring the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funds to restore our waters in the Great Lakes region, and incidents such as this can reverse that process very quickly. Management of hazardous chemicals such as oil must be done with extreme care in order to preserve our waters, our economies and our way of life.
While current laws prevent the further exploration of oil in the Great Lakes, we have to ensure that those laws remain strong and that new attempts to explore for other fossil fuels such as natural gas are regulated sufficiently to protect our human health and environmental resources.