Redefining Trauma : an Examination of the Lasting Social, Personal, and Economic Effects of the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill
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In July of 2010, the communities of Battle Creek and Marshall, Michigan experienced the largest inland oil spill in United States history. Stemming from Enbridge's pipeline 6B, the type of oil that spread over a 36-mile section of the Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River, their river beds, and land stood to be the most toxic form of oil that is in operation. Tar sands, a complicated and incredibly dense oil, sunk to the bottom of the river. In the wake of this spill, both Enbridge and the state of Michigan failed to respond adequately to low-income communities living along the river. Minimal efforts were taken by these parties to respond to people's outcries, and the unique nature of tar sands has left Enbridge with almost $800 million invested into the cleanup. By quantitatively interviewing five survivors of the spill, four of whom lived in a mobile home park along the river in Battle Creek, Michigan, a complex understanding of the multifaceted and totalizing nature of ecological disasters is demonstrated. Under current economic systems, the health and well being of those in the park were cast aside as Enbridge opted for short-term compensation. The lasting health ramifications of inhaling and coming into contact with tar sands challenges current understandings of trauma, and challenges state bodies to reconsider the expansion of pipelines along with current disaster management plans.