August 20, 2016
“America Has Lost It’s Fracking Mind”
Hundreds of pipeline oil spills and fracking and drilling have contaminated private and public water wells, lakes and rivers used for drinking water and underground water aquifers. From Pennsylvania and Ohio, to Oklahoma, Texas and California (and anywhere the Army Corp and legislatures have given carte blanche approval to oil, gas and pipeline interests), these operations have contaminated folks drinking water. Google Kalamazoo River and Santa Barbara oil spills.
There’s a mad rush to drill, frack and pipe for export, every ounce of fossil fuel asset, before American’s and our legislatures and courts come to their fracking senses. It’s not easy standing up to these companies. They have more power than God and more money than the U.S. Government. These companies try to intimidate landowners. I stood up to Enbridge when they wanted to take part of my organic farm for Pipeline 78 in Illinois. I forced them to move it off my land. You can read our story at gofundme.com/2xpggwfw.
Enbridge was responsible for the July 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, which occurred when the 6B pipeline burst and spilled 1,100,000 US gallons of tar sand oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. A six-foot break in the pipeline resulted in the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The pipeline carries diluted bitumen (dilbit), or tar sand oil from Canada’s Athabasca tar sands to the United States. The Calhoun County, Michigan Health Department told 30 to 50 households to evacuate, and twice as many were told not to drink their water. The heavy tar sands sunk to the bottom of the river. Thirty-five miles of the river were closed for 2 years. In March 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Enbridge to return to dredge portions of the river to remove submerged oil and contaminated sediment.
And these pipeline company spill detection guarantees are a load of bull. Although alarms sounded in Enbridge’s Edmonton headquarters at the time of the ruptured pipeline, it was eighteen hours before a Michigan utilities employee reported oil spilling and the pipeline company learned of the spill. Meanwhile, pipeline operators had thought the alarms were possibly caused by a bubble in the pipeline and, while for a time it was shut down, they subsequently increased pressure for extended periods to try to clear the possible blockage, spilling even more oil. The cost of the six year old clean-up has surpassed $1.3 billion dollars; it’s still not cleaned up and probably never will be. Sections of the river remain restricted because of the ongoing cleanup.
In the summer of 2012, the United States Department of Transportation “fined Enbridge $3.7 million dollars and listed 22 probable violations that happened relating to the spill.” And a number of those violations, concern what happened in the Edmonton pipeline control room. One of the reasons for the enormous escalation in time and expense of the cleanup was that the EPA had never handled a tar sand oil spill. In addition, it is reported that Enbridge never informed the EPA of the distinction in the properties of tar sands oil. Unlike conventional crude oil, tar sand oil floats briefly in water but then sinks, causing a much more difficult cleanup, especially if dredging is considered too ecologically damaging. This disaster was the largest on-land spill in American history to date.
In July 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. federal agency with regulatory authority over the failed pipeline, issued a report outlining the official conclusion of the investigation into the incident. The investigators found that Enbridge, which had received an automated signal from the pipeline that a breach had occurred, misunderstood or did not believe the signal and continued to pump tar sand oil through the pipeline for 17 hours after the breach. Local firefighters were notified, and tried to locate the southern Michigan wetland site of the breach, but were initially unable to do so, further delaying the shutdown of the line.
The NTSB investigation report pointed to corrosion fatigue as the underlying cause of the catastrophic breach. The incident was exacerbated by the pipeline’s disbonded tape coating, that emerald green coating we see on all these pipelines. NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman likened “Enbridge’s poor handling of the spill to the Keystone Cops”, asking: “Why didn’t they recognize what was happening, and what took so long?” NPR reported that “NTSB investigators determined that the six-foot break in the pipe was caused by a flaw in the outside lining which allowed the pipe to crack and corrode. In 2005, Enbridge actually had learned that this section of pipe was cracked and corroding. That same 2005 internal report pointed to 15,000 defects in the 40-year-old pipeline. But Enbridge decided not to dig up this (Talmadge Creek) area to inspect it.”
“In 2013, while deliberating on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, the EPA recommended to the State Department that pipelines that carry tar sands oil should no longer be treated just like pipelines that carry other crude oil. Stephen Hamilton, an ecology professor at Michigan State University and the independent science adviser at Talmadge Creek, detailed the challenges and expense of the still-ongoing Michigan cleanup.” They estimate that about 180,000 gallons of Line 6B oil remain in the river bottom sediment after cleanup activities through 2012. On March 14, 2013, the EPA issued a new order to Enbridge to remove this oil and oil-contaminated sediment.
The 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill from a 34 year old pipeline that had worn away by 80% to 1/16 of an inch from external corrosion spewed 143,000 gallons of oil onto pristine beaches and killed more than 300 animals after they failed to initially detect the spill and then restarted the line after stopping. That pipeline company was indicted on dozens of criminal charges and could face fines of nearly $3 million. Is there any question that these new pipelines, which pump sand embedded tar at high pressures won’t wear through these 1/2 inch thick pipelines?
What will it take to wake America up, a catastrophic spill on the magnitude of a ruptured 65 year old Pipeline 5 under the straights of Mackinac, which would contaminate at least 2 of our Great Lakes and at least 700 miles of shoreline in both Canada and the U.S.? Would that finally be enough? And after America finally gives up its addiction to fossil fuels and fully embraces alternative energy, who is going to dig up all these 250,000 miles of old decaying oil pipelines, some full of toxic tar sands and chemicals? I believe that 10,15 or 20 years from now, these oil and pipeline companies will be the new coal companies, failing and headed into bankruptcy. Are the oil and pipeline companies like Enbridge going to abandon them and just leave them in the ground until they rust away and leak whatever is left in the pipes into the nations aquifers and contaminate our drinking water and wells? We know the cleanup will be foisted onto the land owners and taxpayers.
Americans must stand up to those who couldn’t care less about protecting our water. We must oppose and delay these interests until renewable energy can prevail. We’re getting closer every day. Germany is powered with 45% renewable. Costa Rica was powered for an entire quarter by 100% renewable. Fortune 100, 200 and 500 corporations and even oil companies are investing heavily in renewables. Even Apple plans to build electric autos. And oil rich Texas is heavily investing in wind energy. We are finally investing in off-shore wind farms. Alternative energy is getting cheaper every day. Folks and Universities who have supported divestitures of fossil fuel companies has caused investment in dirty Alberta tar sands to be cut by two thirds.
The lawsuit by DAPO against a sovereign nation tribe is just the latest attempt at intimidation. Native tribes, farmers and activists like Bold Nebraska, the Sierra Club and IL Climate Activists stopped Keystone XL. That case was headed to the Nebraska Supreme Court before President Obama decided against approving the pipeline.
We can stop DAPL and shut down Line 3 and its replacement brothers and sisters. I believe these eminent domain lawsuits violate the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (takings clause), and Native American Treaties and Sovereignty. Foreign companies taking Americans property for private gain is buffalo dung. Although difficult, we can live without oil, but as we’ve seen in the drought regions out west, we cannot live without water.
Unfortunately we can’t rely on our governments and courts to save America’s water. Please stand up any way you can. Support Bold Nebraska, IL Climate Activists, 350.org, 350 Kiswaukee, MN350, The Sierra Club, Action Network.org, Bold Iowa, the Sacred Stone Camp gofundme campaign and anyone else who believes in environmental common sense. And vote in November for progressive Earth Protectors.
Jan, Great info & I wish you luck with your struggle, as well. The Sierra Club & 30 plus other environmental groups have written a letter to President Obama.
John, Thanks Jan. I signed.
Stephen, So you folks know, you can message the President at White House Facebook. Even works for Australians.
John, Thank you Stephen. I sent a letter on their Facebook. It really is a small world, especially now that global warming has caused these powerful storms that circle the earth in a single day. What we do here in America and elsewhere effects our neighbors around the world.