On December 27, 2017, Merit Energy of Dallas, Texas, notified the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality an oil pipeline in Manistee County leaked approximately fifty barrels of oil into a wetland. Media sources are just now learning about the spill a month after the MDEQ received notification.
According to the MDEQ, Merit Energy reported the oil spill as soon as it was discovered. Clean up began on January 8, 2018. The pipeline runs under a wetland in Manistee County, so the oil was able to leak up to the surface.
The MDEQ assured home owners in the area drinking water and wells are not affected by the oil spill, and they will be monitoring water quality in the area once Merit Energy completes their clean up.
Merit Energy discovered the oil spill after they noticed the volume of oil moving through the pipeline had decreased.
According to a report from 9 And 10 news, The MDEQ says that spills like this are common and Merit followed protocol. Restoration and clean up of the wetlands in Manistee County will take months to complete.
Admitting that oil spills from leaking pipelines are common in Michigan is a chilling reminder of the massive oil leak in the Kalamazoo River that took place in 2011. Over a million barrels of oil from a ruptured pipeline spilled into the river, and clean up is ongoing. That pipeline is maintained by Enbridge, the company that also maintains Line 5 running under the Straits of Mackinac. It was only recently after years of the public demanding an independent study of the condition of the 65 year-old pipeline that Enbridge admitted sections of the pipeline were damaged. The overwhelming majority of Michiganians want the pipeline removed from the straits completely. Most recently, Governor Rick Snyder rejected his own board’s recommendation to shut down the pipeline until it can be replaced.
That the MDEQ can state oil spills in Michigan’s waters are the new normal we must accept is outrageous. Wetlands are a vital part of our ecosystem that produces oxygen. The loss of species of plants and animals in the region is still unknown, as well as any impact on local water supplies people rely on. It’s time for the MDEQ and oil companies doing business in our state to stop these disasters before they happen, or not be allowed in Michigan at all.