In response to the pipeline 6B incident near Marshall, Michigan, Enbridge is participating in a coordinated cleanup operation along with multiple federal and state agencies and contractors. We continue to treat the Michigan leak as our top priority and have committed to continuing our cleanup efforts until we have returned the affected area as close as possible to its pre-existing condition. Throughout this work, the safety of surrounding communities and the protection of the environment are of the upmost importance.
The organizations that are involved with the cleanup efforts include: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the State of Michigan; Calhoun County Health Department; Kalamazoo County Health Department; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; Michigan Emergency Management & Homeland Security Division; U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA); the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners; and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines.
To guarantee that the cleanup is handled as effectively as possible, Enbridge has ensured that a wide range of the latest oil cleanup equipment and technology is available. Some of the equipment Enbridge has used throughout the cleanup process includes:
- Containment booms: The cleanup crew has deployed thousands of feet of containment boom across several dozen control points in the Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River. Containment booms are floating barriers that can be stretched across a waterway. They are used to entrap oil that is floating on top of the water and to force it to a collection point. Once the oil has been trapped or directed by the boom, skimmers are used to remove the oil from the surface.
- Absorbent booms: Thousands of feet of absorbent booms have been used throughout the cleanup effort. Absorbent booms are essentially giant sponges that soak up oil, while repelling water. These booms are effective at controlling and cleaning oil near shorelines and in shallow water areas.
- Airboats: This unique type of boat continues to be an essential tool in the cleanup effort. Airboats were selected for a number of reasons. First, they are propelled by air thrust, which does not churn water as a underwater propeller would. Second, they can traverse through shallow water as well as tall grass, mud, and the containment booms used throughout the river. Lastly, airboats can carry heavy loads across this variety of terrains without leaving scars on the land or polluting the waterways.
- Oil skimmers: Skimmers are machines that float on the water. They are used to separate, pump or scrape oil from the water’s surface. The average skimmer can separate and remove 30 to 60 gallons of oil per minute from contaminated water. Once the skimmer has removed the oil from the water, the oil is stored in a reservoir. The oil is then pumped out of the reservoir by vacuum truck and transferred into a storage tank.
- Vacuum trucks: Vacuum trucks are used to pump oil directly from the water or from an oil skimmer reservoir. Once the oil is contained in the vacuum truck, it is transferred to a traditional tanker truck to be transported to a storage facility.
- Temporary dike and flume: Immediately after the spill, Enbridge deployed a temporary dike and flume system near the leak’s origin to block further oil from flowing into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. The flumes were used to pond the water and oil. Pipes or culverts installed in the bottom of the dike allowed the water to flow through while the oil floats on the surface to be collected using absorbent pads, vacuum trucks or skimmers.
In addition to the above equipment, Enbridge has utilized dredging equipment, fleet of additional boats, storage tanks, tankers, light planes and excavators in order to help ensure that the cleanup is carried out as effectively as possible.