Oil spill in 2010 not a threat to drinking water

Mar 11, 2013

Kalamazoo River re-opens in 2012 (file photo)
Credit WMUK

A new state report says the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill did not cause contamination of residential water wells that threatens human health. The final “health assessment” by the Department of Community Health says no oil-related organic compounds were found in wells near the disaster in Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.

A ruptured pipeline owned by the Canadian firm Enbridge Energy dumped nearly a million gallons of “tar sands” crude oil into the river near Marshall in July 2010. Officials say tests found elevated levels of iron and nickel in some well samples from the affected area that could be related to the disaster. But they say those levels aren't high enough to pose a health risk.

The MDCH report says tests also found levels of arsenic and lead that might be health issues after long exposure. However, neither is related to the oil spill. Arsenic occurs naturally in some wells while lead usually comes from old pipes.