The House subcommittee which oversees all oil and gas pipelines in the United States is launching an investigation into this situation in an effort to answer that question. One member of the committee U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer lives just 15 miles from the leak and resulting spillage. He has verbally assaulted Enbridge for failing to promptly report the leak to the proper federal authorities.
Enbridge president and CEO, Patrick Daniel has apologized for the mess created by his company while maintaining that the company followed the proper protocol concerning their response to the leak. Efforts to pull the leaking pipe to the surface on Friday had failed late in the afternoon. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund division director Richard Karl said that the leak site and surrounding area was saturated with oil, centered around significant crude pooling near the pipeline rupture. Since the beginning of the week more than 800,000 gallons of crude flowed out of the broken pipe.
Government logs show that Enbridge reported a crude leak spilling into a creek leading to the Kalamazoo River at 1:33 p.m. on Monday afternoon. This report was made several hours after the rupture was discovered and nearly 16 hours after area fire departments received phone calls complaining of a natural gas smell. The timing of the discovery and reaction of Enbridge to the spill is under scrutiny and facing accusations that the oil could have been contained much sooner thus causing less damage to water and wildlife.
As of Monday morning Enbridge reports that nearly half of the crude that spilled from this ruptured line has been recovered. 19,000 barrels of oil have been removed out of what is estimated to be 10,500 barrels that spilled over the past week.
Enbridge executive vice-president Steve Wuori said earlier this morning on a conference call “We are pulling volumes out of the marshy area adjacent to the pipe spill site,” He also said “The containment phase is mostly over, and not the focus is on clean up. “
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other government agencies and the Enbridge company have deployed around 69,000 feet of containment booms and have more than 700 people working to clean up the river. The fleet of clean up equipment includes 79 vacuum trucks, 19 tanker trucks, 43 boats and several skimmers on the water.
The action of removing the ruptured section of line is planned to take place on August 3rd. This process involves removing a section of around 40 feet of damaged pipe and replacing it with pretested sections. Enbridge is working around the clock to meet the demands of the EPA in the cleanup plan. The EPA has authorized $5 million for the cleanup effort and is seeking more money.