An open Letter to Attorney General Spill Schuette
The tar sands oil spill that shocked the continent, and ignited contention over shutting down another pipeline. As the clean-up efforts on the Kalamazoo River continued to be proven full of fraud and insufficient, the concern for a potential crude disaster in the Straits of Mackinac grew. Enbridge, the company facing controversy, has continued to delay, omit, and lie about the details of their 63 year old Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinaw, as well as their ability to respond to a potential spill. Today is July 25th, 2016 and it has been 6 years since the tar sands oil spilled in the Kalamazoo River; the day Enbridge shuts down line 5 is near if we want it.
On July 25th, 2010 the procedures in place at Enbridge failed to respond to a significant loss of pressure in their line 6b in Marshall. The pipeline kept pumping, but the “garbage” crude (diluted bitumen or dilbit) didn’t reach the next pump station. The dilbit, product of refined tar sands, is heavy and gritty. Enbridge did not inform emergency responders about the true contents of the spill until nearly 1 week after initial contamination. The tar sands oil sank to the bottom of the river and became not only the largest inland oil spill on this content*, but also the most costly to clean up. Soon after the spill, Enbridge decided to “improve” line 6b, in which they instead replaced the old with a larger pipe, expanding its carrying capacity. The project to expand line 6b was met with resistance from community members through out the Kalamazoo River watershed, as well as along the pipelines path to a refinery in Sarnia, Canada. The summer of 2013 hosted multiple acts of direct action and civil disobedience, most of which carried out by the Michigan Coalition Against Tars Sands (MiCATS). The resistance to expose, delay, and halt the expansion project was heavily prosecuted by the State of Michigan. This effectively protected Enbridge’s extreme energy infrastructure, and enabled them to complete the project before the oil spill was fully cleaned up. A $177 million settlement between the EPA and Enbridge was just publicized. Enbridge has attempted to file a No Further Action request (NFA) as a means stepping away from parts of their responsibilities outlined in a settlement they reached in court with the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in 2013.
We are 6 years out of a previous spill, and the clean up process was an absolute nightmare full of cover-ups and major health disasters for some riparian communities. Attorney General Bill Schuette, you have been sitting on your hands waiting for Enbridge while they have dragged their feet with the information you say you need. Schuette, you are known to say, “the pipeline’s days are numbered”. You need to order the pipeline to be shut down now. After the information has been analyzed you can make a decision as to whether or not Enbridge can turn the pipe back on- NOT whether or not they should shut it off. The pipelines days are indeed numbered, and that number will become smaller as people continue stand up and demand to SHUT DOWN LINE 5!
-Fen Valley Earth First!
*The Line 6b spill held the title of largest inland oil spill until recently when a tar sands pipeline burst near the tar sands field in the Athabasca region of Alberta, Canada.