REPORTING · 11th July 2012
On Monday, June 18th, Kitimat City Council received a presentation from Lorraine Little from Enbridge, on the Kalamazoo Clean Up.
“Thank you for the opportunity to be here and give you an update on our incident in Marshall Michigan,” said Little. “I was on scene the night the incident occurred and I still have responsibility in Marshall.”
She explained the cleanup is still going on in Marshall and it’s going on under the supervision of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
She told Council In the summer of 2010, the peak of the response, they had 2500 workers on the site. They scaled back to 200 workers and contractors. It happened in a wetland and the rain washed the oil into a creek which was a tributary to the Kalamazoo River. The oil moved forty river miles. 20 thousand barrels were lost. 8 thousand is in the creek, the rest is next to the pipe.
“To date, the majority of recoverable oil has already been picked up. We’ve changed our collection techniques to much more intrusive and invasive meaning; we had backhoes digging up dirt. We had dredgers. We had backhoes on floatation devices that were churning up the bottom of the riverbed. We aren’t doing that anymore because there isn’t enough oil to collect in that manner,” said Little.
The EPA is looking at the entire riverbed and will determine what is left. Enbridge has been studying the river and where the natural collection areas are. The EPA is looking at those areas looking for globules and flecks of oil.
She showed Council slides of where the leak happened and where it got into the river. She showed how the creek where the oil entered the river had been restored nicely. She also showed slides where Enbridge created river access nights where the community could access the river legally. This include a portage site at one of the dam.
Her next slide was of one of the collection sites where they have worked hard. Little stated they may have to go back to this site and do a little more work.
Little showed Council a few overhead shots of the Kalamazoo river and how there was no sheen from oil on them. A next slide was from the lake delta where the furthest oil reached. They had to dig up the delta to get the to the oil.
She expressed they still operated an office in the area of the spill and are still answering questions for the residents.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff spoke about how they heard from the community of Marshall before they heard from Enbridge on the spill. He pointed out how there has been some incidents where all is not as it seems. Some Bitumen is still being released from the sands by being stepped on. He asked if there was a condensed report.
Little explained everything was being supervised by the EPA and the DEQ and Enbridge is not done until the EPA says otherwise. Both have summaries on their websites.
Councillor Phil Germuth stated since 2001, 907 million litres of product has been released into the environment. He stated the technology is only as precise as the operator, which was a factor in the Kalamazoo incident.
Little said this was still under investigation and she was not allowed to talk about anything about receiving a call. There were reports but there was no final conclusion. She did say there were probably some things which were not well done in the control room.
“You’re only as good as your people, but if people miss things, even though they may have been well meaning, they may have thought they saw something different. You are only as good as your people working to rectify that,” said Little.
Michele Perret, who was operating the slides, stated they have done organizational changes and significant maintenance activities beyond what they have done in the past to ensure an incident, such as what happened in Marshall does not occur again.
Feldhoff asked Perret if she had looked at Councillor Phil Germuth’s report on Enbridge’s Leak detection system and requested a formal response. She agreed and stated Kitimat has some active community members who are looking at the pipeline and are asking the right questions. They are looking for a good way to respond to them.
Germuth asked when they would get a response to how they would respond to a spill in the Kitimat area. Perret replied she was busy and are preparing a response but she has not had the time to provide it.
Councillor Rob Goffinet asked how much money has been spent on the clean up or how much they would expect the clean up would cost the company. The estimate was $765 million.
Goffinet expressed the watercourse in Michigan could be described as a tepid little stream going through a marsh.
“Its extremely calm, the movement of water is hardly discernable. The river courses you are going to be covering in this project are some of the most massive flows of water in the world,” said Goffinet.
He wanted to know how much the liability insurance policy on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline was worth. He expected it to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
Perret explained they are prepareing for all kinds of responses because of the topography changes. Each area has a different response plan. Goffinet expressed the topography in BC was different then it was in Alberta. He expected the clean up bill for any river in BC would dwarf the cost of Michigan.
Perret expressed Little was there to address the clean up in Marshall and they would be back to address the Enbridge clean up of a BC river later.
Germuth asked them if it took them 50 years to learn the ropes of the control room, how does Kitimat know they will not be the next ones to figure out another major deficiency in the pipeline.
Perret expressed they are taking their lessons seriously and changing their 60 year program.
There were no further questions. Monaghan thanked them and expressed she was looking forward to seeing them again.
Comment by Linda Halyk on 11th July 2012
How many times are the majority of Kitimat Council going to fall for the BS that Enbridge spews?
All the characters in the scenario spew lies just like a burst pipeline.
Hope you are listening and following the news, Enbridge is in trouble again, the Kalamazoo is not clean and probably never will be. Enbridge has lied and will continue.
The only hope to stop this is if all of the province gets on board. Sounds like we have the south agreeing with the North now wake up the rest of you. Please before it is tooooooooo late.
Comment by outdoorsman on 11th July 2012
ok the only way i want them in kitimat is if they build us a new water supply at hirshcreek lets face it if and when it spills we will have no drinking water no sewer water supply in all of kitmat/cablecar so its time from them to put up or shut you really think there give us a new pump house to give us water never mind the job losses at riotino / fisheries and the new shell site we all need water to live you think hirsh creek can supply enough better dig deep !!!!