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Gulf oil spill brings memories of 2002 Detroit River oil spill

Freighters are a common sight on the Detroit River, one of the most important waterways worldwide
Freighters are a common sight on the Detroit River, one of the most important waterways worldwide
Mike Russell under GNU Free Doc License

Latest Gulf oil spill news

It's day 54 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill gushing forth from damage caused by an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform leased by British Petroleum (BP). The latest news is that the federal government, via the Coast Guard, has given BP until the end of the weekend to identify new methods to speed up immediate containment efforts.

The latest stop-gap measure is able to capture 650,000 gallons of oil a day, with large amounts still escaping into the sea. Now the worst oil spill in U.S. history, it is estimated that up to 100 million gallons have gushed past the damaged well on the seafloor, at 5,000 feet below the surface. BP plans to have a new system designed to take care of about 2 million gallons of oil a day in place by mid-July.

Detroit River oil disaster of 2002

In April 2002 the River Rouge, Detroit River, and Lake Erie saw their own oil slick consisting of 250,000 gallons of used industrial oil that was illegally dumped into a storm sewer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that U.S. Coast Guard and others took on a $7.5 million cleanup along 27 miles of the lower Rouge River and both U.S. and Canadian sides of the Detroit River.

Two former managers at a Dearborn industrial waste treatment plant were eventually convicted on multiple counts including making false statements, violating the federal Clean Water Act, and conspiracy. Their company had a permit to treat liquid industrial waste for discharge into the Detroit sanitary sewer system. The employees skipped the “treatment” part of the process and the company covered up the ongoing omission.

The Detroit River is probably southeast Michigan's most significant natural landmark, and the only river to have dual designation as an American Heritage River and a Canadian Heritage River.

Unique visualization exercise:  Visualize the size of the Gulf oil spill by superimposing its volume over Detroit, or whatever location is plugged in. It's quite fascinating and can be found HERE.

Links to sites interested in our natural landmarks
Oil Pollution Act
Natural Resources Damage Assessment program
Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Pollution Funds Center.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service .
Marine Incidents
The National Wildlife Foundation and International Bird Rescue
Friends of the Detroit River
State of Michigan
Friends of the Rouge River

Need driving directions? You can get anywhere with Google Maps.

To go back to the main page for Detroit Landmarks columns click here.
To go to the Detroit Landmarks Examiner’s Recommendations page click here.

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