UPDATE: Michigan Oil Spill Prompts Local Evacuations
In a story that’s becoming all too familiar, officials are now reporting that initial estimates of the amount of crude oil spilling into a Lake Michigan tributary were too low.
The Environmental Protection Agency now says it believes more than one million gallons of oil may have leaked into Talmadge Creek, which runs into the Kalamazoo River and leads to Lake Michigan.
The estimate reported Wednesday night from the EPA exceeds earlier estimates of about 819,000 gallons from Enbridge, the company responsible for the spill. According to local investigations, just like BP, the company has struggled with explosions and regulatory violations for the past decade.
“We’ve made significant progress,” said Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel, “but we have a long way to go.” He said efforts to determine the source and cause of the spill have begun, but it may be weeks before a final determination is made.
Air Quality In Danger
Already Calhoun County Health Department officials are already recommending the immediate evacuation of the residents who live on, in, and around the Kalamazoo River oil spill due to higher than acceptable levels of benzene in the air.
Although it was much larger, and went on for much longer, an evacuation of residents at risk was never recommended in the area of the Gulf oil spill.
Benzene is colorless chemical that has a sweet odor, and is commonly found in crude oil. People who breathe it in may develop drowsiness, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion or unconsciousness. Benzene exposure can also have extremely harmful long-term effects.
Something In The Water
County officials are also concerned that the oil spill could endanger local water supplies. According to a local Fox news story, residents are advised to stop using water for cooking and drinking. At this time, water tests have not shown any contamination of ground water, but bottled water has been made available to affected residents.
Again, despite the more serious nature of the Gulf oil spill, the EPA has continually claimed that municipal water and private wells in Louisiana, Mississippi, and other affected areas are perfectly safe.
Enbridge President Patrick Daniel said in a press conference that his company is willing to spend “whatever it takes” to clean up the spill and to the satisfaction of the people in the area and regulators.
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