Oil and water don't mix. This was a quote from Susan Hedman, regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commander, stating the obvious Monday night to around 750 in the Marshall High School gymnasium.
Oil and water don't mix.
This was a quote from Susan Hedman, regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commander, stating the obvious Monday night to around 750 in the Marshall High School gymnasium.
The crowd estimate came from Cpt. Matt Sexton of the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office, who said his department has been putting in much overtime during the disaster.
Prior to the event, on Old 27 south of Marshall, Jay VanAntwerp and Jacob Washburn of the Fredonia Township Volunteer Fire Department were manning a post near the spill.
They have been stationed there 24/7, in case of any further emergencies, and said the Marshall Township VFD was doing the same elsewhere.
Hedman opened the event, and citizens heard representatives of a number of agencies, including Calhoun County Health Officer James Rutherford, who produced some numbers:
26 people have been treated in ER in relation to the spill.
31 of 100 wells in the spill area have been tested and deemed safe.
Benzene levels in the air are down, although there are still some “hot spots.”
61 households have been advised to evacuate,12 have done so and 27 had thus far declined.
Rutherford called the evacuations “recommended.”
The agricultural community in the area of Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River has been banned from using water from those sources for irrigation or any other farm operations, and Rutherford said people were advised not to swim or even touch the waters.
The state Department of Community Health (MDCH), he said, advised people not to eat any fish from the river from the area of the spill to Morrow Dam.
Hedman showed a picture of the booms in Morrow Lake 25 miles west, considered the last line of defense in keeping the oil from Lake Michigan.
“There has been a remarkable capture of the oil,” she said. “By no means is that job done.”
She showed booms used in trying to contain the oil, and a picture of the Ceresco Dam, five miles west, before the spill, and pledged it would look like that once again.
Mark Durno, also of the EPA, said there were 78,000 feet of booms deployed in 37 locations, and that the oil-laden water would be “dispensed” in a landfill. He said some 1.8 million gallons of oil and water had been removed.
“We're going to be here months, not weeks, cleaning this thing up,” he said.
Rebecca Humphries, state Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), said their staff on the ground was monitoring and collecting samples.
“We plan to monitor the river for years,” she said. “We will hold Enbridge to their promise.”
Enbridge, Inc. President and CEO Pat Daniel has pledged “Enbridge is going to do what it takes to clean this up and restore the natural beauty of this area.”
Peter Knudson, of the National Transportation Safety Board, discussed the timeline of events, going back to Sunday, July 25, and said it was a Consumer's Energy worker on the road who first reported sighting the oil.
Valdo Calvert, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) veteran of such operations, described the animal reclamation and rehabilitation process, and praised the public.
“I don't think I've ever seen such a local outpouring, of people who care,” he said.
After the formal event, the public gathered in another area to talk to various officials, and many lingered outside the school, where aerial maps of the area were displayed, and Enbridge provided cold bottled water and cookies for the public.