Enbridge oil spill into Michigan river debunks claims of safety in British Columbia

Media Release
For immediate release 27/07/2010
Contact: Eric Swanson 250-418-1672

VICTORIA – Over 3 million liters of crude oil have spewed into a river after a breach on an Enbridge-operated pipeline west of Grand Rapids near Lake Michigan. Enbridge is the company proposing to build the ‘Northern Gateway’ project, which would include twin 1,170km tar sands pipelines from Alberta to BC’s coast at Kitimat, where oil would then be loaded onto large Exxon-Valdez sized tankers to ship to China and Asia via BC’s northern Pacific coast and the world-renowned Great Bear Rainforest. 

“Enbridge has been running a multi-million dollar media campaign featuring full page ads, TV commercials and radio spots, and travelling back and forth across BC claiming our magnificent coast and waters will be safer if their tar sands supertanker-pipeline proposal is approved,” says Eric Swanson of Victoria-based Dogwood Initiative.

“Today’s pipeline spill is another reminder that this claim is ridiculous. Spills happen, the risks are real, and the consequences are potentially devastating for British Columbia’s rivers, coast, and communities. We need to take all Enbridge promises with a grain of salt, or rather, with 3 million liters of spewing oil.” 

“We don’t need this project. We don’t need to take the risk,” Swanson concludes. 

Given the overwhelming community and first nation opposition to the project that is developing along the pipeline-supertanker route, including the decision by Coastal First Nations to prohibit tar sands tankers, Dogwood Initiative is advocating for a legislated, federal ban on oil supertankers through BC’s north coast to protect coastal communities, economies, ecosystems, and cultures. Such a ban, currently supported by the federal NDP and Liberal Party of Canada, would have the effect of prohibiting Enbridge’s proposal for BC. 

Background:

Twenty three spills on Enbridge lines have occurred in Michigan and Minnesota since 1999, with Monday’s spill the worst yet. Several other Enbridge pipelines have suffered leaks in recent years, including a 3,000 barrel leak in North Dakota in January 2010 and in 2007 over 4,200 barrels of Enbridge-transported crude oil tainted the water table in northern Wisconsin.

In 2008 Enbridge reported 93 spills from their pipelines totaling over 12,578 barrels of oil. 65 spills occurred in 2007, which added up to 13,177 barrels. In 2006, their 67 reportable spills amounted to 5,663 barrels. A barrel of oil is the equivalent of 159 litres.

The proposed Northern Gateway condensate and crude oil pipelines would cross numerous tributaries of the Fraser and Skeena watersheds, which are critical to British Columbia’s salmon. 

Contact: Eric Swanson 250-418-1672

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