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Energy company, EPA double efforts after Michigan oil spill

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Massive oil spill in Michigan
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Number of staff at site of spill, oil booms are doubled
  • Company does not know cause of oil spill
  • Estimates put spill at 19,500 barrels of oil
  • The EPA is overseeing efforts to clean up the oil
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(CNN) -- A Canada-based energy company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have doubled their resources in their bid to contain and clean up a Michigan oil spill, officials said Wednesday.

The action came a day after Gov. Jennifer Granholm demanded a large response to the spill, which was estimated at 19,500 barrels of oil.

Enbridge Energy Partners stopped the leak from its pipeline and is committed to cleaning up the oil, its CEO said.

"Our intent is to return your community and the waterways to its original state," Patrick Daniel said at a news conference in Battle Creek, Michigan. "We've made significant progress since yesterday. We still have a lot of work to do."

The company set up a website (www.response.enbridgeus.com) and a toll-free number (800-306-6837) for residents and volunteers.

Health officials continued Wednesday to advise residents, some of whom have been relocated, to stay away from oil fumes and not come near the scene.

"It's a very toxic and dangerous environment," Calhoun County health officer Jim Rutherford said. "We don't need people out there trying to get a closer look at the situation."

He reiterated concerns about air pollution from the spill and possible long-term effects on people and the environment.

Oil began leaking from the 30-inch line Monday, moving from Talmadge Creek into the Kalamazoo River, which flows from near the city of Battle Creek into Lake Michigan. The pipeline normally carries 190,000 barrels of oil per day from Griffith, Indiana, to Sarnia, Ontario. The leak was stopped Tuesday.

Enbridge and the EPA have doubled the size of their response teams to contain and clean up the spill. Daniel said the company has also doubled the number of oil booms and is excavating the broken pipeline to ascertain what went wrong.

Officials will be studying the oil sheen from the air to see the extent of the damage. They are concerned that more flooding from heavy rains could make matters worse.

"Maintain containment is the name of the game at this point," EPA spokesman Ralph Dolhoff said, adding that the agency hired a contractor to assist Enbridge in the cleanup.

"The last thing any of us want is to see a smaller version of what has happened in the Gulf," the governor said Tuesday, referring to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials do not know what caused the leak.

The slick spans 16 miles, and the governor is worried that it could reach popular Morrow Lake, between Battle Creek and the city of Kalamazoo.

Crews staffed by Enbridge are using booms to try to contain the oil and vacuum trucks to clean it up. The effort is being supervised by the EPA.

Two homes near the spill site have been evacuated, and 25 people worried about health issues were relocated, according to Rutherford, who indicated Wednesday that there could be more evacuations.

Officials say there's no immediate danger to drinking or ground water. People are being urged to avoid swimming or fishing near the affected areas. Wildlife has been affected, with some fish and birds coated in oil. Enbridge is preparing a wildlife rehabilitation center for treating the animals.

 
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