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COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Bell's Brewery has filed a lawsuit against Enbridge Inc. over the placement of its dredging pad as part of the cleanup from the Kalamazoo River oil spill three years ago.
Bell's Brewery filed suit July 19 against Enbridge and the developer of a commercial park in Kalamazoo County's Comstock Township.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered Enbridge in March to do additional river dredging to remove more oil from bottomlands. More than 800,000 gallons were spilled when a company pipeline running from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario, ruptured in July 2010.
Enbridge installed a dredge pad and other equipment last month near the brewery's production facility.
Larry Bell, owner of Bell's Brewery, told 24 Hour News 8 he wants the river to be cleaned up. He just doesn't want the dredging pad next to where he makes his beer.
"We feel that these sediments, contaminated sediments, could get into our brewery and contaminate our ingredients and our beer, and put us out of business," Bell said. "We are concerned about airborne pollutants, volatile organic compounds and odor as we are downwind of this dredge pad. And that, we understand, that it is going to come into the brewery and contaminate our raw ingredients."
It isn't just Bell who has concerns. Comstock Township does as well.
"There is a chance that the dredge pad doesn't control and contain all of the contaminants of sediments. So if it were to spill over, what might it do to the well water?" Comstock Township Supervisor Ann Nieuwenhuis questioned.
Nieuwenhuis said fears arose because Enbridge didn't build the dredge pad big enough, according to U.S. Department of Environmental Quality standards.
There are other concerns, too.
"You're going to be pulling up river sediment, letting it sit here for a while. Everyone says there isn't going to be a smell, but what if there is? And what if, more importantly, there is a problem with breathing whatever might be coming out?" Nieuwenhuis said.
She also questions whether, after all these delays, Enbridge will be able to get everything done by the EPA deadline of the end of this year.
"This will be a 24/7 operation. So one, it would be in violation of our noise ordinance. Second, can you imagine what it would be like for schoolchildren that have to go to school and parents who have to work?" Nieuwenhuis said.
There is something most seem to agree on.
"Everybody, including Bell's Brewery and the Township and all the residents, want the river cleaner. We just don't want it done in a way that it doesn't cause other problems down the road," Nieuwenhuis said.
There is going to be a planning commission meeting Thursday in which the issue will be discussed. The Township has moved the meeting to the community auditorium at Comstock High School, 2107 N. 26th St., to accommodate the larger-than-normal crowd that is expected. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. and there will be time for public comment.
Thursday also marks the three-year anniversary of the Enbridge oil spill.
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