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Enbridge's internal problems that contributed to 2010 oil spill have changed, company says

Sep 18, 2014

Federal, state, and local agencies took part in a mock oil spill Wednesday in northern Michigan along the Indian River.

The emergency drill conjured memories of the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill. About a million gallons of crude oil have been cleaned up from that spill. There’s some concern about whether Enbridge has made important internal changes to avoid future pipeline problems.

Carl Weimer with the Pipeline Safety Trust said one of the reasons Enbridge failed to prevent the pipeline break near Marshall, Michigan in July 2010 is not because the company was completely unaware of corrosion and a cracks in the pipeline.

He says Enbridge inspection teams weren’t sharing information with each other.

“Enbridge’s inspection people were so siloed, that they had a certain group that was paying attention corrosion, and a certain group that was paying attention to cracking. What they didn’t catch there in that line 6B in Marshall was that that crack along that seam was also in an area where they had severe corrosion,” Weimer said.

"So they had a crack of a certain depth on top of corrosion that had already removed a big chunk of the pipeline, and they never added that fact up."

“So they had a crack of a certain depth on top of corrosion that had already removed a big chunk of the pipeline, and they never added that fact up. They were looking at them as they were separate events. And since the crack was in the corrosion that made the pipe even weaker.”

He says that was something the company needed to address. 

Jason Manshum, an Enbridge spokesman, says it is something that was addressed. He says since the 2010 oil spill, Enbridge has revamped its inspection operations so that a single team oversees all the inspection data.

“We’ve seen tremendous work by that team over the past several years since then,” Manshum said.

The cleanup of the Kalamazoo River oil spill is winding down four years on. This month, Enbridge officials say they completed work in the river, though there is still some work to be done along the shoreline.