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Chris Wahmoff, Michigan Man, Protests Pipeline Expansion By Climbing Inside

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Chris Wahmoff protested the expansion of Enbridge Energy's Line 6B pipeline by climbing inside it Monday.
Chris Wahmoff protested the expansion of Enbridge Energy's Line 6B pipeline by climbing inside it Monday.
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An activist with the environmental group Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands protested the expansion of a Canadian energy company's pipeline by climbing inside Monday.

Chris Wahmoff spent his 35th birthday inside Enbridge Energy's Line 6B pipeline, south of Marshall, Mich., while friends and supporters cheered him on outside. Wahmoff reportedly used a skateboard to roll into the pipe early Monday morning. He remained inside for approximately 10 hours.

By the time local news cameras showed up, Enbridge had blocked the access road to the pipe. Supporters remained close by and could be heard chanting in the background as energy company officials gave interviews.

The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands wants the pipeline removed. The group also demanded that the company finish cleaning up a 2010 oil spill that leaked 1.1 million gallons of heavy crude into a Kalamazoo River tributary.

According to area news outlet WWMT, a planned expansion of the pipeline in question is set to triple the line's capacity.

"People certainly have the right to express their concerns and opinions, but we want to make sure that they do it in a safe way that doesn't harm anyone's life," Jason Manshum, an Enbridge Energy spokesperson, told WWMT.

Authorities told the station they were concerned Wahmhoff could be harmed by exposure to toxic fumes within the pipeline. At 5:10 p.m. local time, Michigan Radio reported that Wahmhoff exited the pipeline as he had planned.

Wahmoff was arrested after emerging from the pipeline, UPI reported Tuesday. Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton described Wahmoff as "dirty [but] ... in good health."

Although Enbridge work crews cleaned up "surface oil, oiled soil and vegetation" along 30 miles of waterway after the 2010 spill, the river had been heavily polluted before the accident and remains contaminated today.

"An estimated 9 million cubic yards of river soil, sediment and floodplain material [are] laden with harmful ... remnant[s] of paper production and recycling companies that operated along the river in the 1950s and 1960s," Michigan Live reported in 2010.

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