Kalamazoo River Disaster

In 2010, a tar sands pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge, Inc, ruptured near Marshall, Michigan, spilling over one million gallons of oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Soon after the spill, Enbridge embarked upon a project to “replace” 210 miles of that pipeline, known as Line 6B. As property owners along the pipeline route in southeast Michigan directly affected by the project, Jeffrey Insko and Katy Bodenmiller began this blog as a clearinghouse for information for other landowners and a place for concerned residents to swap stories and share resources in the hopes of keeping Enbridge honest. They were told construction would last about four months; it lasted nearly four years. 

The July 25, 2010 Kalamazoo River Disaster caused by Enbridge Energy's broken pipeline is the biggest inland oil spill in U.S. history.  With at least 1 million gallons of diluted bitumen--dilbit”--a heavy, thick crude oil that’s hard to pump without diluting it with hydrocarbons. flowing into Talmadge Creek, near Marshall, and the Kalamazoo River past Galesburg, 35 miles downstream. Sierra Club is working to get our country to move Beyond Oil. When the line broke, the sludge gradually sank to the bottom while the volatile hydrocarbons poisoned the air. Hundreds of homes and businesses had to be evacuated. About 150 families moved away permanently (2012 report - Inside Climate News). No one can say for sure how much sludge the dredging operation left at the bottom of Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River (for a more complete story see The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard of).

Enbridge built the pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac in 1953 and in 2013 the pumps feeding the pipeline were upgraded to push an extra 50,000 barrels a day through the ancient pipeline, with no upgrade to the line itself. It's only a matter of time before there's a dump of impossible-to-cleanup dilbit into the Great Lakes.

The Kalamazoo River catastrophe was the worst of many, many Enbridge spills, leaks, and violations over the years.

Here are photos taken by Lucas Evans of the disaster

USEPA Response to Enbridge Spill in Michigan which includes the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) Overview and other documents as well as EPA's Disapproval of Enbridge Energy's Sampling Analysis and Quality Assurance Plans Related to the Marshall Michigan Oil Spill. Enbridge has provided us a map of the extent of the spill and the location of booms along the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek. The map (dated 7/30/10) shows mileposts and major landmarks. 

The Dilbit Disaster: Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of, Part 1
The Dilbit Disaster: Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of, Part 2
The Dilbit Disaster: Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of, Part 3


  • The Kalamazoo River Oil Spill is another wake up call that our country must get off oil. 


The Kalaazoo River was Never Cleaned Up

An Indigenous woman's story


Also watch Immiscible on the Pipelines page.


Kalamazoo River Disaster - Recent news

Kalamazoo River oil spill - Wikipedia