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NWS: Oil spill could reach Lake Michigan by Sunday

1:57 PM, Jul 27, 2010   |    comments
Oil from the spill is clearly visible in the Kalamazoo River between the Ceresco Dam and Historic County Bridge Park today in Battle Creek. (JOHN GRAP/Battle Creek Enquirer)
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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) - Battle Creek area residents are being warned to stay away from the Kalamazoo River because of a major oil spill.

An estimated 840,000 gallons of oil leaked into a creek Monday that feeds into the river.

Area media were reporting that odor from the spill hung heavy over Battle Creek this morning.

"It is unknown at this time how far the spill has traveled and exactly what areas have been affected. It is assumed due to the current level of the Kalamazoo River and the speed of the current that the entire Emmett Township area and beyond has been affected," according to an advisory issued today by the Emmett Township Public Safety Department.

Wayne Hoepner, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, said oil from the spill could reach Lake Michigan as early as Sunday, although numerous variables could affect the flow rate.

The NWS has been getting reports of oil on the eastern edge of Battle Creek. Hoepner said the oil is likely to reach Comstock, a township in Kalamazoo County, tomorrow.

Calls to Chicago-based Enbridge Liquids Pipelines were not immediately returned today. A message on a company hotline set up for the spill said "we regret any inconvenience this has caused to the community."

The oil leaked Monday from a 30-inch pipeline that carries about 8 million gallons of oil per day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.

The oil spilled into Talmadge Creek, which flows northwest into the Kalamazoo River. The site is in Calhoun County's Marshall Township, about 60 miles southeast of Grand Rapids.

Authorities evacuated two homes near the leak.

According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, an impromptu animal rescue of wildlife affected by the Marshall-area oil spill will begin at noon today.

Organizers said in a posting on Facebook that volunteers should gather at Squaw Creek, scene of the spill, at noon.

They said volunteers should bring fish nets, leather gloves, large tubs, Dawn dish soap and watering cans for rinsing off the animals.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., issued a statement today indicating he is "deeply concerned about the effects of the oil spill near Marshall, including the environmental impact and the disruption to residents and businesses. It is also deeply worrisome that the oil from the spill has made its way into the Kalamazoo River."

Levin said his office has been in contact with federal agencies "to make sure that those carrying out the cleanup have all the resources they need to complete the cleanup job as quickly as possible."

While the focus now is on limiting damage and clean-up, Levin said it is "vitally important" that the company responsible for the spill bear the costs of clean-up and compensate anyone suffering financial damages related to the spill.

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