Enbridge Begins Oil Spill Dredging

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COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. Enbridge’s dredging project is under construction on the Kalamazoo River.

The company is following an EPA mandated order that they remove more contaminated sediment from certain areas of the river.

Enbridge is creating a “pad” or containment area to filter sediment in the Ceresco Dam area in preparation for dredging operations that could begin as early as Monday in that portion of the river.

Wednesday, Enbridge was clearing a boat launch at the 17-acre site that will be an entry point for a number of barges that will be used in the dredging.

“This is where the dredges will launch from,” said Christopher Hawx, Senior Manager of Operations. “We’ll have hydraulic dredging units on the water. Our plan right now is to remove approximately 100,000 cubic yards of material from this area.”

The filtration pads range in size from five to eight acres and can hold large bags where the dirt will be placed to filter.

The bags can hold around 1,000 cubic yards of dirt.  They are so large, when stretched out on the ground, they look as if they would nearly cover a basketball court.

“The water will then leach out of the bags and be treated and discharged back into the river. The sediment will remain within the bags,” said Hawx. “Allowing the water to permeate through.”

That water will sit in a well – lined area, then it will be pumped into a filtration system that’s set up near each off the pads where the water will be treated for release back into the river.

The goal is to get all the filtration areas constructed and dredging completed by December, 31, which is a tight deadline for Enbridge.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit by Bell’s Brewery and the process of permit approval in an area chosen for a sediment site in Comstock Township could slow up the process.

A dredging filtration site that was under construction came to a halt there when Enbridge discovered there were more steps required.

“We needed to get a site plan approved,” said Jason Manshum, Enbridge spokesperson. “We began the work without that site plan approval, but as soon as the Township of Comstock alerted it to us, we stopped work immediately and now we’re following the process we need to get that approval.”.

Larry Bell, owner of Bell’s Brewery, said that the dredge pad near the brewery is too close for comfort.

He said he’s concerned the pile of silt could release chemicals into the air which could float into the facility in Galesburg and contaminate some of the materials used to make their beer.

“The dredge pad is approximately 60 foot right outside my office,” said Bell.”

He filed a lawsuit regarding the location of the dredge pad.

“They started this dredge pad with no authority. No site plan approval,” said Bell.

Enbridge denies there would be any contamination.

“We would not select a site that would contaminate other properties, other parcels. It is all regulated,” said Manshum.

They are also considering other locations previously explored when they were looking for a sediment site.

“We have heard concerns from residents  and businesses like Bell’s. We are once again looking at all options for dredging locations. We did that prior to selecting the site but now we are re-examining again,” said Manshum.

Dredging is scheduled to begin at the Ceresco Dam location Monday.

There are five sites total that will need to be dredged as mandated by the EPA.

Manshum said the dredging project is also beginning on another of the five sites, which includes a small area which was set up as a sediment trap.

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