A ruptured section of pipeline that spewed hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into a southern Michigan river had a lengthwise rip that likely was less than five feet long, a company official said Saturday.
Enbridge Inc. removed a section from the 30-inch line Friday that was about 50 feet long, officials said. It was lifted from a marshy area of Calhoun County under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the failure.
The section was cut into two roughly 25-foot pieces for transport, said Steve Wuori, an Enbridge executive vice president. The pieces will be shipped to an NTSB lab in Washington, D.C. where experts will investigate what caused the leak.
“We really cannot tell visually what the failure mechanism was just by looking at it,” Wuori told reporters on a conference call. “There isn’t any conclusion that can be drawn from that and that’s why the more extensive testing takes place in the lab.”
He said exact measurements weren’t available. He estimated the length of the failure area as probably less than five feet long.
Black tape coating the pipeline also became separated from the pipe because of leaked oil, Wuori said.
Mark Durno, deputy incident commander for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the section of pipeline was removed “without incident.” He said the damage was described to him as a “rip” and is in one of the two 25-foot pieces.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said Saturday that the agency had no additional update on its investigation.
Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alberta, reported the spill July 26. The EPA has said more than 1 million gallons spewed into the Kalamazoo River and tributaries, while Enbridge estimates the total at 820,000 gallons.
Durno said the EPA and the company have more than 1,000 people working on spill response and cleanup in the area.
Durno said the geography in the area has actually helped with the clean-up.
“One of the advantages we have in this particular response we have very tight clay in the sub-surface and that’s holding the contamination up,” Dorno said. “As we dig trenches that contamination literally pours into those trenches.”
Durno says the response to the spill is costing roughly $400-thousand each day. There are 37 collection points with 120-thousand feet of boom deployed. Approximately 2.8 million gallons of oil and water have been recovered from the river.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Saturday had 169 animals in its care related to the oil spill, mostly geese and turtles. Some muskrats and ducks also were being cleaned.
The oil line carried about 8 million gallons daily from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario. Enbridge said a replacement section could be installed soon, but regulatory approval would be needed for the flow of oil to resume in the pipeline.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is part of the Department of Transportation, has ordered Enbridge to develop a strategy for evaluating the pipeline’s integrity and fixing defects.
Another public hearing is scheduled for this coming Tuesday night at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.