Timeline: How the Dilbit Disaster Unfolded

A quick guide to the 2010 Enbridge oil spill near Marshall, Michigan.

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Cleanup experts work to remove oil near the Kalamazoor River spill site,
Cleanup experts work to remove oil near the Kalamazoo River spill site, Aug. 2, 2010. Credit: EPA

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1969: Pipeline 6B installed.

1999: Enbridge begins carrying diluted bitumen from Alberta on Pipeline 6B, part of the company’s Lakehead system.

2008: An internal Enbridge inspection identifies 140 corrosion defects on 6B.

2009: Another internal Enbridge inspection identifies 250 more corrosion defects on 6B.

2009: Enbridge tells PHMSA it will reduce pumping pressure along 6B while deciding whether to repair or replace the line.

July 2010: Enbridge in midst of dig-and-repair program on 6B in Marshall area and elsewhere.

July 15, 2010: Enbridge seeks permission from PHMSA to continue operating 6B at reduced pressure for another 2 ½ years.

July 15, 2010: Enbridge official tells a congressional subcommittee the company’s response time to a leak can be “almost instantaneous.”

July 25, 2010

5:57 p.m.: Workers in Enbridge’s Edmonton, Alberta, control center prepare to take 6B offline for scheduled 10-hour shutdown; first alarms triggered.

9:25 p.m.: Calhoun County residents began dialing 911 to complain of noxious odors.

July 26, 2010

4 a.m.: Controllers in Edmonton try to restart 6B as scheduled; alarms sound.

5 a.m.: Controllers shut down 6B.

7:10 a.m.: Controllers try second restart; more alarms sound.

7:48 a.m.: Controllers shut down 6B again.

Close to 10 a.m.: Enbridge evacuates John LaForge and his family from their home on Talmadge Creek.

11:17 a.m.: Employee with a local utility, Consumers Energy, calls Enbridge to report oil spilling into wetlands near Talmadge Creek.

Late morning/early afternoon: Dozens of federal, state and local officials converge at makeshift command center in Marshall: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency takes charge of cleanup; testing for benzene and other harmful chemicals begins.

1:33 p.m.: Enbridge reports spill of 819,000 gallons of oil to the federal authorities at the National Response Center in Washington, D.C.

July 26, 2010: Patrick Daniel, Enbridge president and chief executive, arrives in Marshall via company jet from Calgary, Alberta, office.

July 27, 2010: EPA issues two cleanup deadlines to Enbridge; wetlands near the rupture site are to be cleaned by Aug. 27; oil from creek, river and shorelines are to be removed by Sept. 27.

July 28, 2010: EPA reports that the size of the spill is at least 1 million gallons.

July 29, 2010: Benzene readings prompt Calhoun County Health Department to issue voluntary evacuation order for some residents; riverside residents advised to stop using their well water for cooking and drinking.

July 29, 2010: Work crews keep oil out of Lake Michigan by halting flow at Morrow Lake, east of Kalamazoo; spill confined to about 38 miles of waterway.

Aug. 2, 2010: At the EPA’s first meeting for residents, state and federal government authorities promise the river will be restored.

Aug. 3, 2010: Enbridge announces program to buy properties along contaminated creek and river.

Aug. 9, 2010: Enbridge asks PHMSA for permission to restart 6B.

Aug. 10, 2010: PHMSA denies the request.

Aug. 10, 2010: Deb and Ken Miller temporarily close their carpet and flooring business in Ceresco.

August 2010: Workers in river begin to notice oil submerged in river sediment.

Aug. 17, 2010: County officials lift the voluntary evacuation order; benzene testing continues.

Aug. 27, 2010: Enbridge fails to meet Aug. 27 EPA cleanup deadline.

Sept. 15, 2010: Deb Miller and five other Calhoun County residents travel to Washington, D.C., to testify before a U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee oversight hearing on the spill.

Sept. 27, 2010: 6B restarted; Enbridge misses second cleanup deadline.

Oct. 31, 2010: Enbridge fails to meet EPA’s Oct. 31 cleanup deadline.

Nov. 2, 2010: Enbridge increases its estimate of spilled oil to 843,444 gallons

Nov. 5, 2010: Calhoun County residents can resume drinking and cooking with well water.

December 2010: Enbridge announces that 766,288 gallons of oil recovered from the spill are being recycled back into 6B.

Spring 2011: Crews again fan across river, using poles to map the footprint of the submerged oil.

April 2011: The LaForges settle with Enbridge on the sale of the family home on Talmadge Creek.

June 17, 2011: EPA orders Enbridge to complete cleanup by Aug. 31, 2011.

July 2011: The LaForges move into their new house on the outskirts of Marshall.

Early August 2011: Enbridge announces it won’t meet EPA’s Aug. 31 deadline.

March 2012: Enbridge meets end-of-March deadline to rid Talmadge Creek of oil; monitoring continues.

April 16, 2012: Enbridge files paperwork with the Michigan Public Service Commission to replace Pipeline 6B.

April 18, 2012: Calhoun County Health Department opens a mile of the contaminated section of the river to the public.

June 4, 2012: EPA raises its estimate of recovered oil from the spill to 1,148,229 gallons.

June 21, 2012: Jim Rutherford, Calhoun County’s public health director, opens about 34 miles of the Kalamazoo River to the public. A small stretch at the delta of Morrow Lake remains closed while cleanup continues. Crews are now mapping the river again, to estimate the amount of oil remaining.

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