NEWS RELEASE · 28th July 2010
Enbridge's devastating spill in south-central Michigan will undermine the company's credibility and strengthen grassroots opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, say campaigners with ForestEthics.
On Monday, the 30-inch Enbridge Lakehead pipeline carrying crude oil from Indiana to Ontario suffered an underground break in Michigan. At least 3 million litres of crude oil leaked into a nearby creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River. It is being called the largest evironmental disaster in te history of the Midwest.
"With this latest spill, Enbridge is effectively making its own argument against the Northern Gateway Pipeline," said Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy Campaigner with ForestEthics.
Enbridge spokesman Alan Roth was quoted in a northern B.C. newspaper recently saying, "pipelines don't effect or impact any watersheds as they don't emit anything or take anything in."
"Enbridge makes bold promises of safety but it looks more like they're promising us a big disaster," said Skuce. "More and more British Columbians are going to be looking at the impact of recent oil spills and deciding they don't want northwest B.C. to act as a tar sands transportation corridor."
Michigan authorities are criticizing Enbridge's response to the oil spill. Congressman Mark Schauer said Enbridge was "slow to respond" and Governor Jennifer Granholm called the oil company¹s response "anemic."
"A private citizen in Michigan smelled oil and reported the spill to authorities," said Skuce. "If this had occurred in the remote mountains of Northwest B.C., an even greater amount of oil would have likely spilled before Enbridge even discovered the problem."
The National Energy Board reports that for every 1,000 kilometres of large diameter pipeline in Canada there is a major rupture every 16 years. The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would run 1,250 kilometres from the Alberta tar sands to a port in Kitimat.
In January, an Enbridge pipeline in North Dakota spilled 504,000 litres of crude oil into a nearby stream. Last year, the company was fined $1.1 million for over 500 environmental violations related to pipeline construction in Wisconsin.
Enbridge filed its application with the National Energy Board for the Northern Gateway pipeline in May. Preliminary hearings are set to begin in August.