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US hit by new oil spill: officials

A new oil spill is sullying US waters in the northern state of Michigan after a pipeline leak sent more than a million gallons of crude into a river tributary, officials said on Wednesday.

world Updated: Jul 29, 2010 15:57 IST

A new oil spill is sullying US waters in the northern state of Michigan after a pipeline leak sent more than a million gallons of crude into a river tributary, officials said on Wednesday.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the spill began Monday when a 30-inch (76-centimeter) pipe in Marshall, Michigan burst, spewing the crude into Talmadge Creek, a waterway which feeds into the Kalamazoo River.

Officials said the pipeline belongs to the Canadian company Enbridge Inc.

The agency said it is directing and monitoring all aspects of oil spill clean-up and containment efforts over 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the Kalamazoo River, including marshlands, residential areas, farmland, and businesses.

"This is a serious spill that has the potential to damage a vital waterway and threatens public health," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

"Staff from EPA's regional and headquarters office are on the scene and ensuring the leaked oil is contained and cleaned up as quickly and effectively as possible."

On Tuesday, the environmental agency requested that the US Coast Guard make two million dollars available for the federal response to the spill, and said the money eventually will be reimbursed by Enbridge.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm however criticized both EPA and Enbridge Wednesday for what she described as a slow response so far.

"The situation is very, very serious," Granholm said in a conference call with the news media, adding that oil could reach Lake Michigan if more intensive containment measures are not put in place.

The Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge said in a statement that it views the incident "very seriously."

"We're treating this situation as a top priority," the company statement said.

"We are committed to thoroughly cleaning up the site as quickly as possible. The safety of people and the protection of the environment are our highest priorities during the clean-up."

Enbridge said that the faulty pipeline has been shut down and isolation valves closed, stopping the flow of oil.

An investigation is underway into the cause of the leak, it added.