Crews Scramble To Contain Michigan Oil Spill

Oil gushes into the Kalamzoo River in Marshall, Mich. i i

hide captionWorkers survey the area where crude oil from a leaking underground pipeline was gushing into the Kalamazoo River in Marshall, Mich., on Wednesday.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Oil gushes into the Kalamzoo River in Marshall, Mich.

Workers survey the area where crude oil from a leaking underground pipeline was gushing into the Kalamazoo River in Marshall, Mich., on Wednesday.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

A company operating a pipeline that dumped more than 800,000 gallons of oil into a southern Michigan river said Wednesday that it is doubling its workforce on the containment and cleanup effort.

Officials with Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc. made the announcement during an update on the spill, which coated birds and fish as it poured into a creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, one of the state's major waterways.

"We've made significant progress," company CEO Patrick D. Daniel said. "But we still have a long way to go in terms of cleanup."

But at a teleconference Wednesday evening, Michigan Gov. Jennifer said Enbridge's efforts in dealing with the spill were "wholly inadequate."

Her remarks came as a state police official who conducted a flyover of the site said the oil had spread past a key point in the river upstream of Kalamazoo.

Tom Sands, deputy state director for emergency management and homeland security, said he saw oil across Morrow Lake and a light sheen past a dam a few miles downstream from Battle Creek.

The Environmental Protection Agency said earlier it was bringing in additional contractors; there was no update on a possible cause, cost or length of cleanup.

"The longer oil is out there the more continued volatilization occurs and the more we become concerned about prolonged potential exposures," said Ralph Dollhopf of the EPA. He said EPA scientists are taking air and water samples.

Health officials said the area is highly toxic and are advising people to stay away. All portions of the Kalamazoo River affected by the spill were closed to fishing, boating and swimming.

Granholm declared a state of disaster in Calhoun County and some other affected areas along the river, which eventually bisects the city of Kalamazoo and empties into Lake Michigan at Saugatuck.

The leak in the 30-inch pipeline, which was built in 1969 and carries about 8 million gallons of oil daily from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario, was detected early Monday.

With reporting from Rebecca Williams of Michigan Public Radio and The Associated Press

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