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Lambda Energy Pipeline Discharge

Site Contact:
Cody Stoddard
On-Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
Frederic, MI 49735
NRC#: 1382792

At 0930 on October 27, 2023, crude oil was discovered coming to the surface in a rural wooded area near Gaylord, Crawford County, Michigan. Figure 1 shows the location of the discharge in relation to nearby surface waters. The discharge was first discovered due to the odors of crude oil and was verified by an employee of Lambda Energy. The discharge occurred in a rural area north of Fredric, MI. The property consists of a wooded area being utilized for logging. The surrounding area is sparsely populated. The topography in the area consists of steep ravines with a general slope toward Kolke Creek.   

The discharge was coming from a low pressure (40 to 50 lbs) 16-inch crude oil gathering line which receives oil from local oil production wells.  The cause of the leak was initially unknown, the amount discharged was estimated to be approximately 100 barrels. Valves on either side of the discharge point had been closed when the discharge was located. The continued discharge was gravity flow from the 2.5 miles between the uphill valve and the leak. An estimated 3500-4300 barrels remained in this section and posed a substantial threat to Waters of the United States had the discharge not been contained. The oil discharged from this location could have traveled to Kolke Creek, AuSable River or Manistee River, Figure 2 below shows the potential pathway to Kolke creek through the valley where discharge took place. 


Lambda Energy’s contractors initially began collecting the oil via vac truck at the discharge location.  Additionally, soil was being excavated and stockpiled from the area where it flowed across the ground and down a hill. Lambda Energy began collecting oil from either side of the discharge location via pre-installed risers connected to the pipeline. This operation continued until enough oil had been removed from the pipeline to reduce the head pressure on the discharge point. An estimated 4,000 barrels was collected using vac trucks and transported to storage locations. 

Once the head pressure had been reduced sufficiently enough to begin searching for the discharge point, on October 28th, Lambda Energy began excavating the suspected discharge location via hydrovac and excavator. The point of discharge was discovered in a section of pipeline directly below where the oil was daylighting onto the surface. Oil was being discharged through a hole in the top of the pipe approximately 3/8"-1/2" in diameter, the cause of this hole is unknown. The crew immediately began prepping the area of the pipe around the leak to install a permanent clamp. 

Once the clamp was installed,  EPA determined that there was no longer a substantial threat to Waters of the United States. An estimated 82 barrels had been discharged from the leak before being contained. 

EPA demobilized on October, 29 2023, an EGLE representative will remain onsite to oversee the  excavation and disposal of impacted soils. Clean backfill will be transported onsite to fill in the excavation and return the site to its previous condition. 

This site will be updated when the pipeline repair is completed.