Enbridge TV commercial sparks controversy on the Kalamazoo River

Posted at 5:58 PM, Aug 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-01 19:16:22-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The latest commercial from Enbridge has brought out polarized views from residents.

The commercial played on the four year anniversary of the Kalamazoo River Enbridge oil spill, and according to Enbridge, the Kalamazoo River is “restored.” Many residents beg to differ. They told FOX 17 that the river is anything but that, and that wildlife is sparse.

Greg Adams lives 34 miles from the site of the 2010 Enbridge oil spill. As he picked up several bottles he removed from the river Friday, he said he grew up along the Kalamazoo River.

"There used to be a beautiful campground called Shady Bend,” said Adams. “I spent days growing up there when I was a kid, I took my kid there. That place is still closed down due to Enbridge."

Yet the recent television commercial from Enbridge shows how an idyllic Kalamazoo River restored, including its turtles and other wildlife. Residents like Adams disagree.

"I'm just not happy with the glorified commercial saying that they've got everything under control and the river's back to magnificent and better than it was: that's not true,” said Adams.

According to Enbridge Spokesperson Jason Manshum the clean-up operations are on schedule and set to finish by late summer. As for the condition of the wildlife, Manshum said Enbridge rehabilitated 6,000 animals after the oil spill, including mostly turtles, and 98-percent survived.

“Over the course of the three or four years that we've been in the river, we have re-seen or recaptured almost half of all of those turtles, and they're all growing, they're thriving, they're healthy,” said Manshum.

FOX 17 cameras spotted five turtles on the Kalamazoo River Friday afternoon at Historic Bridge Park, but nearby Battle Creek resident Jeff Okon said that was “luck.”

“It's not so much that the wildlife is here and trying to repopulate, it's just not here,” said Okon.

Some residents said they can see the positives from the oil spill: such as the homes that sat on the market for years, and now are sold.

"We made a commitment to make sure that we did our best to get this river to a healthy condition, in as good of condition or better than it was before; I think we have made that commitment,” said Manshum. “But again we're not done."

Others like Okon and Adams said the end of restoration is nowhere in sight.

"All the places we're hearing oil may be covered up and what not, just get to it, get it done, make it right, and give us back what is ours,” said Okon.

Manshum said Enbridge will continue to monitor the Kalamazoo River and its sediments in the future.