A pipeline carrying oil to Sarnia, Ont., has leaked more than three million litres of oil into a creek in southwestern Michigan, endangering birds and other wildlife.
The pipeline belongs to Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. and carries about 30 million litres of crude oil a day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia.
The leak in the line, known as the Lakehead System, occurred Monday morning near the company's Marshall, Mich., pumping station near Battle Creek, Enbridge has confirmed. At least 19,500 barrels of oil spilled into the fast-flowing creek, which flows into the Kalamazoo River.
Oil-covered Canada geese were spotted walking along the banks of the river Tuesday while dead fish could be seen floating in the oily water.
"This is just a disaster," said local resident Raymond Woodman. "They need to clean it up."
Enbridge stopped the flow of oil and is testing the air in the area for the presence of the cancer-causing chemical benzene. Drinking water is also being tested. Two homes near the leak have been evacuated, but so far, no major health concerns for residents have been identified.
Some 200 employees and contractors are working on the cleanup, along with government officials. Michigan has activated its state of emergency operations centre, and U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged a swift response to requests for assistance.
"We know that leak has had a major impact on people in that community and on the environment and on wildlife," said Enbridge spokeswoman Gina Jordan. "Our crews are currently working on containment using booms and oil skimmers and vacuum trucks."
Jordan said the company is working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"There are confirmed reports of birds impacted by the oil … we're also working with Focus Wildlife, a rehabilitation contractor who is on site and they are setting up a decontamination and handling site for any affected wildlife," said Jordan.
Enbridge does not yet know what caused the pipe to leak, Jordan said.
"We're very much focused on the cleanup of the spill. There will be a thorough investigation of the incident," she said.
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