Tar Sand Pipelines Safety Risks PDF Print E-mail

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warns that tar sands pipelines may be putting public safety at risk. The pipelines carry diluted bitumen or “DilBit”—a highly corrosive, acidic, and potentially unstable blend of thick raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid condensate using conventional pipeline technology which is not adequate for the high operating temperatures and pressures required to move the thick material through a pipe.  The DilBit is highly corrosive because it is both acidic and abrasive.  The Alberta pipeline system has had 16 times as many spills due to internal corrosion as the U.S. system.

The NRDC recommends that the U.S. evaluate the pipeline safety regulations required for pipelines transporting DilBit, improve spill response planning for DilBit pipelines, put construction on hold until adequate safety regulations for DilBit pipelines are in place, and reduce U.S. demand for tar sands oil.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked an 800,000 gallon tar sands spill into the Kalamazoo River in 2010 as the largest spill in Midwestern history. 

kalamazoo tar sands spill

Section of Kalamazoo Pipe Rupture
6 feet 5 inches long by 4 1/2 inches wide
National Transportation Safety Board

The Kalamazoo tar sands oil spill was far more damaging and difficult to clean up than traditional crude.   When DilBit spilled out of the ruptured pipeline, benzene and other chemicals in the mixture went airborne, forcing mandatory evacuations of the surrounding neighborhood.  A survey by the Michigan Department of Community Health found that more than 300 residents living near the spill suffered health problems such as severe headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems in the weeks and months after the spill.

The thick, heavy bitumen sank and coated the river and lake bottoms, mixing with sediment and suffocating bottom-dwelling plants, animals, and micro-organisms.  A full year later, EPA officials and scientists were still working on a plan to remove submerged oil from about 200 acres of river and lake bottom.  Enbridge, the pipeline company, thought the cleanup might take years.  Read the article from On Earth Magazine:

"A Year After Pipeline Spill, Tar Sands Oil Still Plagues a Michigan Community"



MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


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Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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