Imagine this: Thick black crude oil sitting atop the water. Oily ripples lapping at the shores. Trees overhanging the waters with blackened leaves and branches where the wind can push them into the water. Geese and other waterfowl covered in black from beak to webbed feet. The stench of crude oil sweeping inland on the breeze. Government officials talking about how short term benzene exposure "isn't too bad".
Imagine this? Don't have to. It's reality.
Day 100 of the BP oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico? No. Day 4 of the Michigan Oilpocalypse.
While there actually is oil drilling in West Michigan, it's a pretty small industry. However, it turns out that there are crude oil pipelines all through the Midwest and therein lies the problem.
A 30-inch pipe in the Lakehead pipe system run by Enbridge of Calgary AB, which carries eight million gallons of crude oil a day from Griffith IN to Sarnia ON, ruptured and spilled over 20,000 barrels of crude -- some 840,000 gallons or about 10% of a day's worth of transport -- into the Talmadge Creek in Marshall MI. That oil is already in the Kalamazoo River, past Battle Creek, and heading towards Lake Michigan. Another report states there is oil in the Battle Creek River now, too. Yet another report suggested yesterday that there was oil spotted in Plainwell MI, where US-131 bridges the Kalamazoo River, miles further downstream than Morrow Lake which is where Enbridge plans to make their stand.
Governor Granholm flew over the river system in a helicopter yesterday and wants the EPA people to do the same. She is claiming that what she saw doesn't gibe with the claims from Enbridge. Hmm, sound familiar? Complicating all this has been the heavy rains of the past week or two, and more rain coming today. A number of West Michigan rivers have flooded and some dams have had to release extra water, adding to the flooding.
So far, a report I read said that 14,000 of the 40,000 feet of oil boom have been deployed, and there are vacuum trucks slurping up oil off the surface. And teams rescuing birds and turtles.
So far this year we've had Lake Michigan threatened with the Asian big head carp coming out of the Mississippi river system where it is connected by locks in the Chicago area. One set of electric wires is all that is keeping the invasive species out some days, but no one in charge wants to close the damned locks and save the hard won Lake Michigan sport fisheries.
Now we can add to the oil spill a report of three horses which have come down with equine encephalitis. So in addition to gushes of crude oil and giant aggressive fish, we have to get all paranoid about dying from mosquito bites.
I guess we've been too lucky avoiding the problems of other areas and now it's our turn. Sigh.