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Drill to test oil spill response in St. Clair River

May 24, 2016

Government agencies will practice responding to an oil spill from a pipeline crossing the St. Clair River tomorrow. 

The pipeline passes beneath the St. Clair River just south of Port Huron.

The drill will involve a simulated 13-minute, 5,000-barrel oil spill. The exercise will involve boats in the river and absorbent booms in the water, all to corral and collect fictional oil leaking from the pipeline.

The drill involves government agencies and the pipeline’s owner, Enbridge.

An Enbridge pipeline leaked roughly a million gallons of crude oil in 2010, fouling more than 30 miles of the Kalamazoo River. The company spent a billion dollars to clean up the spill.  

Environmentalists point to the 2010 spill and demand that Enbidge’s Line 5 pipeline be shut down. While much of their concern is on where the pipeline passes through the Mackinac Straits, the St. Clair River section of the pipeline is also an issue. 

A group whose members have previously been arrested at Enbridge pipeline construction sites plan to hold a protest during this week’s exercise.