Dave Reynolds > On Supertankers Through Serenity
Most are aware of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. Don’t you just love those dish detergent commercials where the lab coated guy cleans off the pelican covered in evil British Petroleum black tar goo. So we understand each other. I am not anti big-business. I am not anti oil companies, nor am I a leftist liberal wacko environmentalist sheep. You can get that shit out of your head right away! The Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill flowed unabated for three months starting in April in 2010. Finally, on July 15, 2010, the leak was stopped only, after it had released more than 4.9 million barrels of crude oil onto the beaches of Louisiana. It is the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. So far! The spill caused extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and devastated the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.
How did British Petroleum executives behave after the worst environmental oil spill in the history of the known universe? Horribly. Like your worst neighbor, who is supposed to be watching your house; instead comes over, drinks all your booze, steals your cool stuff, trashes your house and kills a bunch of puppies, bunnies and birdies. Then pawns your stuff and spends all the money at a strip club. This, while you are away at Aunt Elma’s funeral. It comes down to this: These guys are some of the biggest assholes available. They lie and cheat and buy off politicians all to protect themselves and other rich people after they fuck up! They are just dicks!
Most have heard of the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill disaster. Bad huh?
Here is a story less familiar but certainly rivals the others in its ability to illustrate how we stand, right now, on the cusp of another epic environmental fail. On March 22, 2006 the distracted idiot fuckwad helmsman of the “Queen of the North”, the pride of the BC Ferries fleet, missed a critical turn coming out of Grenville Channel and slammed the ferry’s bow, at 17.5 knots, onto the rocks of Gil Island. The “Queen of the North”, 6 years later, still sits in 1.400 feet of water and everyday leaks a little more toxic diesel out of her ruptured fuel tanks that bubbles to the surface. The Gitga’at First Nations people of the area had to learn new words after March 22, 2006. Words like burbling, sheen, shine and boom now have become part of their lexicon.
The Gitga’at have learned many new things recently. First and foremost: when disaster strikes they alone will be left to clean up the mess.
Enbridge, a Canadian based company (with terrible environmental track record), operates the world’s longest crude oil pipeline system, in Canada and the U.S. It has before the Canadian legislature something called the Northern Gateway Proposal. Essentially, these Enbridge jerkoffs want to build a $5.8 billion pipeline that runs 731 miles from Alberta to Kitimat B.C. At Kitimat, giant oil supertankers — some as long as the Empire State Building is tall, loaded with 2.15 million barrels of crude — would navigate the treacherous channels, fjords and islands of the Great Bear Rainforest to the open sea on route to the Orient, primarily to the almost insatiable current energy appetite in China. “This is one of the biggest environmental threats we have ever seen,” said Ian McAllister co-founder of Pacific Wild, a wilderness protection organization that works Canada’s Pacific rim. “And it will become one of the biggest environmental battles Canada has ever witnessed. It’s going to be a bare-knuckle fight”
What has Mr. McAllister and other environmental experts so freaked? Here is the safety record for Endbrige. These are the facts:
Between 1999 and 2008, Enbridge lists 610 spills that released approximately 21 million litres (132,000 barrels) of crude oil. On July 4, 2002 an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in a marsh near the town of Cohasset, Minnesota in Itasca County, spilling 1,000,000 litres of crude oil. In an attempt to keep the oil from contaminating the Mississippi, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources set a controlled burn that created a smoke plume a mile high and 5 miles long.
In 2006, there were 67 reportable spills totalling 900,345 litres on Enbridge’s energy and transportation and distribution system; in 2007, there were 65 reportable spills totalling 2,190,367 litres.
On March 18, 2006, approximately 97,459 litres of crude oil were released when a pump failed at Enbridge’s Willmar terminal in Saskatchewan. According to Enbridge, roughly half the oil was recovered, the remainder contributing to ‘off-site’ impacts.
On January 1, 2007 an Enbridge pipeline that runs from Superior, Wisconsin to near Whitewater, Wisconsin cracked open and spilled ~189,270 litres of crude oil onto farmland and into a drainage ditch. The same pipeline was struck by construction crews on February 2, 2007, in Rusk County, Wisconsin, spilling ~476,961 litres of crude. Some of the oil filled a hole more than 20 feet deep and was reported to have contaminated the local water table.
In April 2007, roughly 990,013 litres of crude oil spilled into a field downstream of an Enbridge pumping station near Glenavon, Saskatchewan. Long-term site remediation is being attempted to bring the site to “as close as possible to its original condition”.
In 2009, U.S. affiliate Enbridge Energy Partners agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit brought against the company by the state of Wisconsin for 545 environmental violations. Wisconsin’s Department of Justice, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said “…the incidents of violation were numerous and widespread, and resulted in impacts to the streams and wetlands throughout the various watersheds.”
In January 2009 an Enbridge pipeline leaked about 635,949 of oil southeast of Fort McMurray at the company’s Cheecham Terminal tank farm.
In April 2010 an Enbridge pipeline ruptured spilling more than 1500 litres of oil in Virden, Manitoba, which leaked into the Boghill Creek which eventually connects to the Assiniboine River.
In July 2010, a leaking pipeline spilled an estimated 3,785,411 litres of crude oil into Talmadge Creek leading to the Kalamazoo River in southwest Michigan on Monday, July 26.
These are the facts
The Canadian government’s joint review panel is expected to debate this issue for at least the next 14-16 months.
This cannot be allowed to happen. This MUST not be allowed to happen. The stakes are just too high.
More information and a petition to e-sign here
Sources: National Geographic, Richard Harris NPR, Ian McDonald Florida State University