Enbridge pipeline that ruptured near the Kalamazoo River 7/25/10
As Kalamazoo made clear, tar sands spills are even more devastating than classic crude oil spills. Tar sands oil must be diluted with toxic chemicals to allow it to flow through a pipeline. With a spill, these chemicals evaporate, sickening people in surrounding areas. Meanwhile, the heavy tar sands oil sinks to the bottom of waterways, making cleanup nearly impossible and exceedingly expensive (for Kalamazoo, $1.2 billion and counting in cleanup costs, a $176 million settlement with the federal government, a $75 million settlement with the state of Michigan, and $5.4 million in reimbursement for federal costs).
A chunk of tar sands. Photo: David Hasemyer, Inside Climate News
To learn more about tar sands — the disaster that’s waiting to happen — read our primer, “Tar Sands: Why Should I Care?” Then watch this moving video of Joanna Macy’s flyover of the Athabasca oil sands of Alberta.