Oil Spills, Pipe Dreams and Enbridge
Large scale oil spills have caught our attention in the recent past; we are all too familiar with hearing the details of such accidents epitomized by the BP oil spill of 2010. With the latest Wisconsin spill involving Canada’s Enbridge Inc. and the leak of more than 1,000 barrels worth of crude oil, government attention seems to have finally led to more rigorous action on pipeline management. The US government has decided to block Enbridge’s 752 km pipeline until the company creates a new pipeline plan which consequently, would also have to be approved by the Transportation Department’s pipeline safety agency. This government call on Enbridge comes after the Transportation Department issued the company a $3.7 million fine last month for an oil spill in 2010 which impacted part of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.
These oil spills show a need for greater oversight and evaluation before permitting the creation of large scale pipe infrastructure that cuts through our natural areas, towns and cities with unforeseen contingencies.
As pipeline safety has increasingly become both a government and public concern, this may mean that other projects such as Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, proposed to connect the tar sands to Canada’s west coast, could be reassessed in light of recent accidents.
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