Friends of the Richelieu. A river. A passion.

"Tout cedit pays est fort uny, remply de forests, vignes & noyers. Aucuns Chrestiens n'estoient encores parvenus jusques en cedit lieu, que nous, qui eusmes assez de peine à monter le riviere à la rame. " Samuel de Champlain

"All this region is very level and full of forests, vines and butternut trees. No Christian has ever visited this land and we had all the misery of the world trying to paddle the river upstream." Samuel de Champlain

Friday, August 13, 2010

Le déversement dans la Kalamazoo

Photo: John Grap

L'oléoduc de la compagnie canadienne Enbridge continue de faire des victimes, humaines, animales et végétales. Le bris que certaines personnes disent s'est produit durant la nuit du 25 juillet (voir mon entrée de blog du 28 juillet "Un autre déversement de pétrole brut" ici: et que la compagnie n'a pas constaté avant 11:30 le matin suivant a déversé plus de 1 million de gallons de pétrole brut dans la rivière Kalamazoo et ses affluents.

La National Transportation Safety Board pense que la fuite s'est produite un peu avant 18:00 heures le 25 juillet quand Ensbridge a fermé l'oléoduc pour de l'entretien. Des alertes ont signalé une baisse de pression et bientôt des citoyens de la région se sont plaint de fortes odeurs de gaz au 911. Ensbridge a réouvert le pipeline à 4:26 heures du matin la journée suivante et l'a refermé plusieurs fois pendant les prochaines heures à cause des changements de pression. Un technicien de la compagnie a inspecté les lieux à 9:49 heures mais n'a rien trouvé. Ensbridge a confirmé le bris après avoir été contacté par Consumers Energy à 11:16 heures.

À ce jour, des riverains qui ont la Kalamazoo River dans leur cour arrière doivent dormir la fenêtre fermée pour tenter de fuir l'odeur du pétrole. Lee Munson y vit depuis 20 ans et constate que le chant des crapauds s'est tu. Il s'inquiète aussi pour la survie des grenouilles qui chantent habituellement au printemps. Seront-elles là l'année prochaine? Il en doute.

Pour tenter de mieux contrôler les désastres et faciliter le nettoyage, les autorités ont baissé le niveau de Lake Allegan de 2 pieds, mais on s'inquiète de voir des centaines de poissons et des moules morts sur les rives, dont certaines espèces sont sur la liste des espèces menacées ou en danger de disparition de l'état du Michigan.

Pour tenter d'amadouer les propriétaires riverains barbouillés par le pétrole brut, Enbridge a offert d'acher 200 maisons dont les terrains ont été les plus impactés:
"Enbridge Inc. violated oil spill rules

Rep. Mark Schauer, a Michigan Democrat, said he was convinced the massive leak began the night of July 25, although the Canadian company insists it didn't confirm the spill was under way until about 11:30 a.m. the next morning.

Schauer also said Enbridge began laying boom material to contain the oil then but took two more hours to file a report with the National Response Center. Federal rules require pipeline operators to report releases of more than 5 gallons of hazardous liquids "at the earliest practicable moment" following their discovery.

Authorities are trying to determine what caused the failure of the 30-inch, 41-year-old pipeline, which carries about 8 million gallons of oil daily from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario. The Environmental Protection Agency has said the leak has spewed more than 1 million gallons into the Kalamazoo River and tributaries in Calhoun County, while the company estimates the total at 820,000 gallons. The oil flow has been stopped and government officials say it's been contained in the stretch of the river from Marshall westward past Battle Creek.

The National Transportation Safety Board believes the rupture may have occurred shortly before 6 p.m. on July 25, when Enbridge shut down the pipeline for maintenance, Schauer said. Alarms at Enbridge's control center signaled a drop in pressure then, he said. Within hours, people in the Marshall area were reporting strong gas odors to 911. Enbridge restarted the pipeline at 4:26 a.m. the next day and repeatedly turned it on and off for the next several hours because of spikes in readings, Schauer said. A company technician visited the site at 9:49 a.m. but found nothing amiss, he said. Enbridge confirmed the leak only after being notified by Consumers Energy at 11:16 a.m., he said."

Excerpts from article written by John Flesher of The Associated Press published here:
"Absence of frogs a sign of oil spill impact

Along with the pitch black oil still visible in the tall grass at the edge his riverfront property, Lee Munson can hear the effects of the Enbridge oil spill. Or, rather, he can't hear it. The sound of bullfrogs, "the old 'whomp whomp,' one of Mother Nature's wonderful noises," has ceased, Munson said.

Munson and his wife, Jan, have lived on five acres of wooded land stretched along the Kalamazoo River's south bank for 20 years. The couple was out of town when an underground pipe began leaking oil into the river nearly two weeks ago. For about a week after returning home, the Munsons had to sleep with their windows closed to keep the stench of oil out of the house.

The birds, snakes and turtles once seen from the backyard are also now scarce, Lee Munson, 68, said. The frog population took a hit several years ago when the state relaxed some of its environmental regulations, he said, but it was starting to recover until the oil spill happened. "Now you don't hear a one," he said. "I bet you they're all dead."

Along with the bullfrogs, Munson said he's worried the chorus of spring peepers won't be around next year to welcome him and his wife back from their winter in Texas. Larger animals like birds, mammals and even turtles have been helped some by organized rescue efforts, but the frogs that lived in and around the Kalamazoo River may have had little chance of being saved."

Excerpts of article written by Barrett Newkirk published in The Inquirer here:
"Drawdown of Lake Allegan kills hundreds of fish and endangered mussels

The two-foot reduction in the lake’s water level killed hundreds of fish and several mussels, including a few species that are on the state of Michigan’s threatened or endangered species list.

The move was a contingency so that the river’s water level could be better controlled in an effort to prevent re-contamination of the river by oil along the shoreline in the event of a heavy rain. The drawdown was implemented at the request of the oil spill’s unified command team, comprised of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Enbridge Inc. and state and local officials."

Excerpts from an article written by Chris Killian published in the Michigan Live here:

The fact that Endbridge is a Canadian company, and that the dirty tar sands are happening in Canada, these are two things that do not make me proud to be Canadian!

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