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Enbridge Energy’s 2010 Kalamazoo River Pipeline Spill: The Worst and Most Expensive Pipeline Disaster in the History of America

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Duty to Warn

new-logo25kohlsBy Gary G. Kohls, MD

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“This investigation identified a complete breakdown of safety at Enbridge. Their employees performed like Keystone Kops and failed to recognize that their pipeline had ruptured and continued to pump crude into the environment. Despite multiple alarms and a loss of pressure in the pipeline, for more than 17 hours and through three shifts, they failed to follow their own shutdown procedures. Enbridge restarted the pipeline twice in that 17-hour period, pumping oil that would account for 81 percent of the total spill.” — National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-07-24/-keystone-kops-bungling-led-to-costliest-u-s-pipeline-spill)

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On July 25, 2010 Enbridge Energy’s Alberta tar sands pipeline burst near Marshall, Michigan, spilling an estimated 1.1 million gallons of toxic heavy crude oil (including various petroleum-based diluents) into the Kalamazoo River. (Note that, in order to easily flow through an oil pipeline, the extra-heavy sludgy oil peculiar to the Canadian tar sands needs to be diluted with a 25% – 50% mixture of dangerous petroleum solvents, including the known carcinogen, benzene).

As soon as Enbridge workers in Hazmat suits arrived on the scene the first day of the catastrophe, they tested for benzene fumes and other toxic volatile organic substances and ordered nearby residents to evacuate immediately. Some of the affected residents never came back to their homes for 60 days.

Enbridge’s Kalamazoo disaster was North America’s worst and most expensive inland oil spill disaster. To my knowledge, it was never reported in the Duluth News-Tribune or on the local nightly news. Nobody that I know ever saw or heard a single report about it on local or regional television or radio news. Sadly, the same could be said about most of the other environmental disasters mentioned below that involved corporations that have a presence in the upper Midwest.

The Enbridge pipeline that ruptured in Michigan delivered dirty tar sands oil from Ontario. That pipeline crossed northern Minnesota, (and both the Mississippi and St Louis Rivers); crossed the entire state of Wisconsin; and ended up at a terminal in Indiana.

Tragically for the Kalamazoo River and every fish and minnow and crawfish in it, a six-foot break in the pipeline sent hours of high pressure toxic petroleum products into the Tallmadge Creek, a tributary of the Lake Michigan-bound Kalamazoo River. The broken pipe polluted a 35 mile segment of the river, and the damage will likely be permanent.

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The Enbridge pipeline rupture that contaminated the Kalamazoo River on July 25, 2010

Oil and Heavy Metal Pollution of Water and Soil is Forever

It is important to emphasize that the pollution of any water or soil resource from significant amounts of chemicals, especially oil and toxic metals, whether the resource is an aquifer, a river, a bog, a wild rice bed or a lake, CAN NEVER BE FULLY REMEDIATED, despite what is said in the propaganda campaigns that are cunningly generated from the guilty mining, energy or petroleum companies whose flawed technology is responsible.

Petroleum products and heavy metals are both capable of floating on, mixing with or sinking beneath the water (thus flowing far beyond the mouth of the stream, attaching to the shoreline and/or sinking into the sludge at the bottom.

“Clean-up” of an oil spill is thus a myth. “Clean-ups” can never completely suck out or dredge up or de-contaminate all the pollutants no matter what method is tried.

To make things worse, the co-opted mainstream media can be counted on to simply (and very lazily) repeat the propaganda that comes from Big Oil, Big Mining, Big Coal or Big Energy when their spokespersons hold the reassuring press conferences that follow every “accidental” spill. Corporations have their duty to their advertisers, investors and stock market analysts to not unduly stir up a lack of confidence in the stock price.

Mining “Accidents” are Inevitable and They Could Happen Here

The inevitable “accidents-just-waiting-to-happen” scenario applies to some well-known examples like the Exxon Valdez disaster, the British Petroleum/Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Enbridge’s Kalamazoo River disaster, and some of the mining industry tailings ponds “breaches” that occur so frequently or just slowly leak toxins forever. More

Block The Alberta Clipper Pipeline Scheme

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Block The Alberta Clipper Pipeline Scheme

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Canadian pipeline company Enbridge is pushing an illegal plan to nearly double the amount of dirty tar sands oil it pumps into the U.S. through its Alberta Clipper pipeline, bypassing the environmental review required by law — and the State Department is prepared to allow this disastrous plan to move forward. Last November, we convinced President Obama to reject the climate-wrecking Keystone XL pipeline. Now let’s stand together and demand that Secretary of State John Kerry put the American people before polluters and block the reckless Alberta Clipper pipeline scheme!

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Make Your Voice Heard!

Your message will be sent to:

  • Secretary of State John F. Kerry

Subject line:

Stop Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper tar sands scheme

Dear Secretary Kerry:

(Consider adding your own thoughts — personalized messages are especially effective.)

I am appalled that your State Department is prepared to allow Enbridge to move forward with its plan to nearly double the capacity of its Alberta Clipper tar sands oil pipeline while bypassing the legally required environmental review. This project would bring even more tar sands oil, one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet, into the United States, increasing the dangerous carbon pollution that drives climate change and worsening our dependence on fossil fuels. And allowing it to move forward without the proper review is illegal. Please conduct a lawful and complete review of the proposed Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion and its far-reaching impacts on our environment, our climate and our health. Once you do so, I’m confident you will have no choice but to reject it. Thank you.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

Minnesota: The Keystone Pipeline is not the Key to Prosperity

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strip bannernew-logo25Marti Oakley

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www_Sticker_Tk_kiss_my_assThe Senate is preparing to vote on the Keystone Pipeline.  Mary Landreiu led the Democrats as she shilled for the pipeline.  The trade off of course is, that the Democrats will ok the pipeline and  Republicans will be caving in on immigration…..which of course will supply a really cheap labor force that can be exploited.  Its a win! Win!

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