The following story on the threat the proposed Tar Sands pipeline poses for the state was reprinted with the permission of the Texas Energy Report.


Enbridge says public data don’t back up spill concerns

As the Environmental Protection Agency announced the re-opening of parts of the contaminated Kalamazoo River in Michigan Thursday, environmental activists in Texas warned that tar sands could contaminate water supplies in the Lone Star State as well.

Noting that Enbridge Inc. “was allowed to push tar sands through” a 43-year-old pipeline in Michigan leading to a spill “nearly impossible” to clean up, environmental experts at Public Citizen – Texas say the same could happen in Texas.

Enbridge, they say, has begun pumping the “same toxic diluted bitumen” through the 36-year-old Seaway pipeline, which runs under three major drinking water sources for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“All Texans should be deeply troubled,” the group said in a statement, noting similarities between the Kalamazoo and Texas pipelines now transporting tar sands, also known as oil sands.

“The reversal and repurposing of the aging Seaway pipeline was accomplished without any inspection or oversight from state or federal agencies despite the fact that the new tar sands feedstock is substantially more likely to cause a pipeline rupture, contains a far greater concentration of toxic diluents, and is made up primarily of Canadian bitumen which sinks in water, making it almost impossible to clean up,” Public Citizen said in a statement.

“I don’t think it’s that simple,” Larry Springer, an Enbridge spokesman based in Houston, told Texas Energy Report.

“We went back ourselves and looked and did not find any examples of pipelines that failed from internal corrosion in the last 10 years that were carrying oil that was produced in the Canadian oil sands,” he said.

Springer cites the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) as the source of data backing up that claim. He also noted that the pipeline that failed in Michigan was from a much older era.

By Polly Ross Hughes

Ramrodded by veteran reporter Polly Hughes, the Texas Energy Report’s Energy Buzz specializes in what is happening on the ground in Texas energy ranging from dedicated coverage of the Texas regulatory agencies to battles in the Legislature that affect the future of the industry. 

Copyright June 21, 2012, Harvey Kronberg, www.texasenergyreport.com, All rights are reserved.  Reposted by TexasVox.org with permission of the Texas Energy Report. 



A photo collage video by Michelle Barlond-Smith, a resident of Battle Creek, Michigan, near the Enbridge pipeline spill.

In  the meantime, an Enbridge Tar Sands victim of the Michigan spill, the most expensive in US history, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday, June 26th in front of the House Energy Resources Committee of the Texas Legislature, to describe the human cost of a tar sands pipeline spill.

Michelle Barlond-Smith is a resident of Battle Creek, Michigan, one of the communities hit hardest by the July 2010 rupture in Enbridge’s Line 6B which dumped over 1.1 million gallons of diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River. Michelle witnessed firsthand neighbors and friends becoming sick or being hospitalized, has watched communities along the Kalamazoo become ghost towns, and brings a cautionary tale to Texans along the Seaway pipeline from near Dallas down to the gulf coast.  She will be in Texas testifying in front of the House Energy Resources Committee at the public hearing that will address an interim study charge examining state regulations governing oil and gas well construction and integrity and pipeline safety and construction and determine what changes should be made, if any, to ensure that the regulations are adequate to protect the people of Texas and its natural resources.

This committee hearing will begin at 9:00 am on Tuesday, June 26 in the Texas capital extension in room E1.010.  The committee will hear invited testimony only.  No public testimony will be taken, but the public is permitted to attend, and we encourage you to do so.