Jul 26

A Small Victory

Tar sands infrastructure corporation Enbridge was ordered to dredge Morrow Lake along the Kalamazoo River. The EPA insisted Enbridge dredge the river in five places before the end of 2013.  The purpose of the dredging is to pull tar sands crude and chemicals out of the river that remain after the 2010 spill.

In Comstock, MI, Enbridge set out to prepare for the dredging site by chopping down 24 acres of trees, without going through the proper permitting process as is customary in Comstock Charter. Enbridge claimes they “did not knowingly act without Township approval with respect to preparing a CCP site.” This attitude of entitlement is reflected in everything Enbridge does, from the taking of land through eminent domain to the horrible treatment of residents. We are being invaded by a foreign corporation.

If Enbridge is allowed to proceed with their plan, the tar sands and chemical infused sediment will be pulled out of the river, sent through a glorified carbon filter, then placed in silos for 24 hours to air out, put through a pugmill, then to a pugmill stockpile (in the open air?). The sediment will be loaded into trucks and brought to a landfill in Three Rivers. According to Chris Tracy, Enbridge’s lawyer, there will be two trucks running through an hour but a resident says folks can expect more like seventeen trucks an hour.


The man in the red tie on the far left is Chris Tracy, Enbridge’s lawyer. The rest are Enbridge employees.


Strong comments were made by residents including those whose mature trees were chopped down by Enbridge. One woman spoke about the risks it poses to her lower/middle class neighborhood. MI CATS activist The Whammer, who bravely skateboarded into the expansion of pipeline 6B spoke heatedly about House Bill 5565. Jessica, MI CATS activist and Kalamazoo resident spoke about the three year anniversary of the tar sands oil spill, Enbridge’s carelessness, and climate change. Larry Bell of Bells Brewery spoke about the danger that dredging poses to his brewing and his 225 employees. He also voiced a concern that the chemical infused material could spill into the earth and affect his products. Larry Bell and his lawyer are actively seeking alternative sites for the dredging. Enbridge attorney attempted to fit into the requirements of the Comstock Commerce Park they claim to be producing a commodity. A commodity of benzene and other chemicals, and unconventional oil. No one is buying it. In fact, the leftovers are planned to go to a landfill in Three Rivers. Thanks to the DEQ Policy and Procedure’s Dredge Sediment Review, the permittee to able to waive sediment testing if the waste is going to a municipal solid wastes landfill. This means those living in Three Rivers won’t know what chemicals are going directly into their communities. Luckily that fear is stalled for the time being!

A Map of the Kalamazoo River near Morrow Lake

A Map of the Kalamazoo River near Morrow Lake

After a long night of public comment and the Comstock Planning Commission grilling Enbridge, the decision was made that Enbridge must cease and desist until further notice. They will have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals if they are to continue pursuing the Comstock dredge site.

The pros and cons of dredging are controversial. One resident spoke about the three eagle nests near her. She has lived on the Kalamazoo River for thirty years and says that the fish and birds are doing significantly better than they were at the time of the spill. By developing and dredging, Enbridge will ruin all the progress the Earth has made. Stirring the river up will also send pollutants down stream into Kalamazoo. And why should other communities, such as those in Three Rivers have to deal with Enbridge’s disaster?  Another perspective is that the river never should have been contaminated.  It ought never happen again and the Canadian Corporation ought to clean up after itself.

The bottom line is that Enbridge ought to stop expansion of 6B in order to ensure no more spills in the future. Enbridge needs to cease and desist completely to save the vanishing wild. Enbridge must halt all construction to ensure the ticking timebomb that is the Alberta tar sands are not exploited.

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