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Tar sands shipping opponents: spill would pollute Lake Superior for decades
A coalition of environmental groups doesn’t want any Great Lakes communities to allow oil to be shipped on their waterways. Mike Simonson reports.
This comes as a Superior refinery asks Wisconsin for a permit to ship oil on Lake Superior.
Calumet Refinery says shipping Alberta tar sands oil on barges from a dock in Superior would be safe and efficient, and would solve the problem of not having enough pipeline capacity from the booming Canadian oil fields. It wants a permit to spend $20 million on an oil terminal in Superior.
Lyman Welch with the Alliance for the Great Lakes thinks that would be dangerous.
"The concern with heavy oil is that heavy oil can sink to the bottom and then it's very difficult to remove and expensive as we've seen from the Kalamazoo spill.”
The Kalamazoo pipeline spill in 2010 was the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.
Minnesota Environmental Partnership Program Coordinator Andrew Slade says a spill on Lake Superior, the deepest of the Great Lakes, would take decades to clean up because tar sands oil sinks. So he says heavy crude from the tar sands must not be allowed on the lakes.
“Think about this avalanche or volcano or flood of tar sands trying to get out of that Edmonton area, trying to get to the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean. There's no way to just say no to this in any one place or the other. It really has to be the work of an informed watchful citizenry and strong legislation.”
But in the same teleconference with reporters, Coast Guard Incident Manager Jerry Popiel says he hasn’t seen a proposal from Calumet, but it would have to include oil spill recovery plans.
“We're committed that any company that's going to try to do this, they're going to have to demonstrate to us that they can recover submerged oil by all the categories that are required by law.”
A Calumet spokesman wouldn’t give a telephone interview on this, but did send a statement to say the company is working to find refineries in the mid-continent and eastern United States to take tar sands oil shipments.
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