Oil leak on massive pipeline pushing tar sands through the Great Lakes

Enbridge Energy has just reported that their Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline is being shut down because they have spilled over 5000 gallons of oil. The spill happened in Saskatchewan, Canada, and it is not yet clear what has caused the leak. Enbridge has reported that the spill occurred at one of their pumping stations but some of the oil has sprayed onto nearby private property.

This latest spill is yet another example on why Enbridge should focus a lot more time on pipeline safety instead of rushing and pushing through massive amounts of pipeline expansion projects throughout Canada and the US.

In fact, Enbridge is currently trying to gain approval in both canada and the US to expand the Alberta Clipper pipeline. They want to increase pressure on this pipeline from 450,000 barrels per day to 880,000 barrels per day!

The Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline is the beginning point for all the Enbridge expansions throughout the Great Lakes, which will make the largest freshwater system, in the world, a super highway for transporting and refining tar sands. Enbridge is even one of the companies behind the recent proposal to ship tar sands, via tankers, throughout the Great Lakes.

All of these expansions are being rushed through despite the fact that Enbridge still has no idea how to clean up tar sands and Enbridge definitely doesn’t want you to realize that US regulators, PHMSA, still has a corrective action order out on the Lakehead System, which is the entire pipeline system that transports tar sands throughout the Great Lakes. This corrective action order says:

The Original CAO noted that the history of failures on Respondent’s Lakehead Pipeline system, the defects originally discovered during construction of Line 14, a 2007 failure on Line 14, and the July 2010 failure on Line 6B in Marshall, Michigan, and additional failures throughout all parts of the Lakehead System indicate that Respondent’s integrity management program may be inadequate. PHMSA has communicated its longstanding concerns about this pattern of failures with Respondent over the past several years. Given the nature, circumstances, and gravity of this pattern of accidents, additional corrective measures are warranted.

Despite this unprecedented corrective action order, and several failures since, PHMSA is still allowing Enbridge to expand many pipelines along the Lakehead system, including a 60-year-old pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

There are several easy online action tools that allow you to reach out to the decision makers behind these proposals. Please consider taking a few moments to fill these out to show your opposition to the major risk Enbridge continues to build in the Great Lakes.

Contact the Department of State and let them know that Enbridge should not be allowed to increase pressure on the Alberta Clipper pipeline. 

Also, please contact your US Senator and let them know that Enbridge should never be allowed to increase pressure on a 60-year-old pipeline that runs through the heart of the Great Lakes.

UPDATE: This spill has been confirmed to be heavy tar sands and Enbridge has restarted the pipeline. No information has been released regarding the cause of the leak. You can no view photos of the spill by JOHN W. MURRAY HERE.



40 thoughts on “Oil leak on massive pipeline pushing tar sands through the Great Lakes

  1. Pingback: BREAKING: Oil leak on massive pipeline pushing tar sands through the Great Lakes | SURF Great Lakes « The Turning Spiral

  2. This entire industry keeps expanding and wanting to expand at ever higher rates. Failure after failure, there is insufficient cleanup, or repair, or both. For instance, I live 60 miles from Kalamazoo, MI, and have a friend who worked on that cleanup: it was a laugh and the Kalamazoo River is still not clean. This entire industry is acting out the popular definition of “insanity:” Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different (and more effective) results each time. Instead, ever greater areas are covered by spills and not returned to ” a reasonable facsimile” of its original state by the companies involved. Will these businesses ever change? For instance, the company owning the pipeline in question, here, still hasn’t corrected earlier orders from the government. Without significant corrections, will the companies continue their present practices until the extent of these spills make significant areas of the country basically uninhabitable for decades to come? (And don’t get me started about the Keystone pipeline extension, the West Virginia water disaster, or fracking.)

  3. Your headline got me to the story, but I’m trying to make sense of it. Is there tar sands oil loose in one or another of the Great Lakes? is this pipeline laid under or in one or another of the Great Lakes? Can someone clarify this for me? Thanks.

    • Sorry for the confusion on that. The Alberta Clipper pipeline runs from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. I’ve just updated the post to include a map. The map is not perfect, but it should help outline the risk. The spill happened in Canada but Enbridge is trying to increase pressure on both the pipeline in Canada and the US.

      • once upon a time there were some speculators who thought that there was no reason NOT to clear almost the entire Midwest in order to produce wheat….the dustbowl is what resulted from disrespect of Mother Nature and That people need to learn from past mistakes of Rushing in (where need is not yet required) Trying to beat out the next guy for the “most First” Damnit when will they learn~!!

    • No, I believe you are referring to the Mackinac pipeline, which is actually much older than Alberta clipper! Clipper crosses many sensitive areas, including the Mississippi River several times and is the pipeline that feeds the Mackinac pipeline oil. I’ve just posted a map to help.

      • Thanks for the map. Being from Michigan I hear quite a bit about the crossing at the Straights of Mackinaw, but I wonder about the crossing at Sarnia as well. Is it just as old and isn’t the St. Clair river very important to Lake Sturgeon reproduction and waterfowl?

      • Yes .. There is a line that runs under the Straights of Mackinaw. Been there 60 years or so. It’s a line that runs under (200 feet deep under water, exposed and moves with the currents) the connection of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. They dumped rocks on it years ago to prevent it from swaying back and forth from the currents. It has been piping natural gas and crude for that time. Now they want to pump tar sands through it. There is no clean up response to a spill there, and if there was a spill, it would be of catastrophic proportions that it would make the West Virginia chemical spill look like a pimple. This would have lasting effects on the biggest fresh water source in the world and Enbridge would walk away just like they did in the Kalamazoo spill. Wake up folks.. tar sands and water don’t mix. Pipes will leak!!!!!! Tar sands are THE most toxic form of energy there is.

  4. Poor Mother Earth, Enbridge doesn’t care except for the bottom line. We all better keep working to stop the spills and make the pipeline companies CLEAN UP, 809 spills since 1999,
    plus probably more that have not been reported. This needs to be top news and top on the
    list of Presidential duties. There are reports of cancer occurring in Canada where spills have been and fracking having been done. Keep writing and calling those in power.

  5. Enbridge is laying plans for a new pipeline that will run far too close to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River here in MN. It will cut thru many sensitive wetlands! All the locals see is the tax revenue.

    • Are they sure they will see money locally? In KS, the state gives them a 10 year tax break so the counties and cities get nothing for 10 years and have no say in this whatsoever.

    • Enbridge is running a pipeline through the wetlands in Howell Michigan in Livingston County. They’ve even hired our police officers as guards! Guarding us form our own land!

      • Gayle, is there a website that has more info on the pipeline near Howell. I grew up close to there and know people from around there. Thanks!

      • you should check out the Line6bcitizens blog: http://grangehallpress.com/Enbridgeblog/
        The writer is a land owner along the pipeline. He’s been documenting the miss-dealings of Enbridge for over a year how. He has pulled in other homeowners living through this project and helped to document their concerns and stories. He lives just on the other side of 23 (east of Howell).

  6. What a misleading headline! Makes it sound like the leak is IN one of the Great Lakes. Let them build the pipelines they need and they won’t have to run the ones they have over capacity or transport oil by train (way more dangerous thab pipelines). Until the far-off day when alternatives c an actually be used effectively on a mass scale, we need oil, and it hurts no one but the poor you liberals supposedly care so much about to do things that restrict production and raise oil prices.

    • Obviously that pipeline isn’t running through, or by your property. Typical Republican response. You want others to suffer so you can gain, but would raise holly hell if Enbridge destroyed your land. The Great Lakes are some of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world, and it’s evil, and ignorant to threaten it because of greed. Try drinking oil, moron.

  7. thanks for trying – i tried too – seems to be a mystery – Enbridge is controlling the message here for the mainstream media to soak up. the new map you posted is great – would love to get a GPS-version so we can zoom in for the GreatLakesCommonsMap.org

  8. Big oil corps have bought our goverment and abuzed our land for years but still nobody can match the dollar amount there willing to spend.I fear violance is going to be the only answer.That or my bad spelling!!!!

  9. Pingback: BREAKING: Oil leak on massive pipeline pushing tar sands through the Great Lakes | blackmeetwhite

  10. I’m Canadian and the Enbridge pipeline scares me half to death. These people are irresponsible but what is even more frightening is the Canadian Conservative government is behind them 100%. It’s sad to say, but Stephen Harper appears to lack integrity, and a conscience. I hope the U.S. Can put a stop to this because Harper is bound to push this through regardless of any and all objections.

  11. Who would have believed just 10 years ago that Canada would self destruct so rapidly. Canada even makes the US look almost sensible in comparison these days in their horrendously shortsighted and unsustainable greed. I am just glad the EU has banned all tar sand oil so our hands are cleaner over here!

  12. Reblogged this on s-kw'etu'? and commented:
    I am tuuhuk for all life on the Mother, Canada’s colonial practices have long extended far beyond the genocide of the Indigenous land owners.

    The key words behind colonial entities are exploitation, acquisition, expansion, unequal powers, superiority, inferiority, they refuse to compromise with the indigenous land owners, as we have and are seeing in these present times. They were created to exploit wealth from the indigenous land owners property, in that extraction if the land owners property is destroyed that basically is not the problem of the crown, because it was never theirs to begin with and they certainly do not have to live here.

    Are you comfortable having an entity that kidnaps children, institutionalizes them where they are tortured, raped, abused and many murdered, then covers it up and disguises it as a ‘free eduction’ generously provided at tax payers expense to the ungrateful Indians, covers it up, destroys evidence and lies about it today. Are you really comfortable with that mechanism unilaterally making the decisions that effect you and your families future and well being?

    I am tuuhuk for all life on the Mother,

    We have said NO continually to this colony only to have our government’s dismantled and people killed and seriously harmed and despite this our answer is still NO and will always be NO! They won’t take NO for an answer so what does that make them?

    NO, my territory is not for resource exploitation and destruction, it is here, the Mother is here for us, for the life that exists on her, for us to sustain ourselves and enjoy the one thing we actually do possess, ourselves and our lives. We all have a responsibility to protect and care for that which provides for us and it is not the government, it is the Mother. There is no treaty between our people and that government, the stewardship of my inherited territory is not theirs, it is ours, colonial entities are not qualified for that task.

    We have no government, we are burdened with the band council apparatus that the colony has imposed to aid them in the exploitation of our territories, which I do not support, want or endorse so as a lone Warrior who refuses to relinquish my culture and the responsibility I have to protect the Mother and life on her that exists on my territory I stand and state on behalf of my elders, my people, the children and all life including the settlers who now live here that NO I do not give my permission to allow expansion of the pipelines, NO TANKERS on our coast.

  13. Thank you for letting us know, having eyes and ears stewards out there helps to inform the rest of us. It is devastating this is occurring, and not surprising at the same time. Enbridge has a very low track record of cleaning spills and preventing them. And yet somehow the government still thinks it’s a good thing to have – rubbish!

  14. The residents of Michigan (and other great lake states) need to have this pushed in their faces via more media attention. The only way to battle Big Oil is with millions upon millions of people knowing about the screwups. We have only 1 environment and fresh water is crucial to our survival.

  15. Pingback: 2014-01-21 – Eco-Defense Radio News | Eco-Defense Radio

  16. Pingback: SURF Great Lakes » 10 little-known facts about the Mackinac oil pipeline through the Great Lakes

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