Workers in Battle Creek, Mich., are frantically trying to clean up more than three million litres of oil from an Enbridge pipeline that has been spilling into the Kalamazoo River since Monday morning.
The oil stretches for 26 kilometres downstream of the spill on the Kalamazoo River, which feeds into Lake Michigan, according to state officials. The slick has not reached Canada, Ontario's Ministry of the Environment said.
The Calgary-based company has said the 76 cm pipeline carries approximately 30 million litres of oil per day from Griffith, IN, to Sarnia, Ont.
Enbridge Pipelines Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that it is doing all it can and has been since the spill was spotted on Monday, but it still hasn't pinpointed what caused the pipeline along the Kalamazoo River to burst.
"We are currently focused on bringing all available resources to bear in our efforts to safely contain the leaked oil on the Kalamazoo River," said Stephen J. Wuori, an executive vice-president at Enbridge. "We have brought in multiple crews of trained Enbridge personnel, and continue to draw on our contractors to further augment our resources."
Crews worked through the night to contain the slick, with the use of booms, oil skimmers and vacuum trucks, the company said. More equipment was on site Tuesday.
Michigan resident Raymond Woodman watched as workers used a vacuum truck to suck water up from the Ceresco Dam downstream from the leak.
"This is just a disaster," said the man from Emmett Township. "It shouldn't matter how much it costs to clean this up. They need to clean it up."
Officials in Battle Creek and Emmett Township warned residents to keep away from the river area, avoiding activities such as fishing, swimming and boating until the spill is cleaned up.
Local television reports said the smell persisted through Tuesday and that Enbridge had helped accommodate families who were overwhelmed by the stench of oil in nearby motels.
Residents submitted photos of oil-slicked animals to television stations and many fled the area.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm toured the area by helicopter Tuesday and chastized Enbridge by saying the response so far has been "anemic."
President and chief executive Patrick D. Daniel told a news conference in Battle Creek that the company was going to "do what it takes to make this right."
U.S. Representative Mark Schauer, a Michigan Democrat, said he talked about the spill with President Barack Obama. Mr. Schauer called it a "public-health crisis," and said he plans to hold hearings to examine the response.
"The company was originally slow to respond and it is now clear that this is an emergency," Mr. Schauer told reporters.
While they're still waiting for more explanations for how the spill occurred, the Michigan Environmental Council, a policy organization that includes about 60 environmental organizations, said the oversight and control of natural resources has been cut back tremendously over the past decade.
"We hope it's a wakeup call," said spokesman Hugh McDiarmid, adding that the group was preparing a statement to be released Wednesday morning.
With a report from the Associated Press