Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pipeline Spills Can Make You Sick

Turns out that having a pipeline rupture and flood your neighborhood with bituminous tar sands oil isn't healthy for kids - or anyone, for that matter. People living a mile away from the evacuation zone in Mayflower, Arkansas are experiencing health impacts: sore throats, headaches, stomach aches and respiratory problems.

According to a recent article in Huffpo, school kids are being sent home because they're feeling ill from breathing the oil-laden, full-of-volatile-organic-chemicals air in and around the school grounds. Though, you've got to wonder just what the air quality is like at home...

Chemicals that have been measured in the local air include benzene, toluene, hydrogen sulfide - stuff people shouldn't be breathing even at low levels. Unfortunately, most regulatory standards are set for healthy people in the workplace - not infants and children or elderly people who might be breathing polluted air 24/7 for as long as it takes to mop up the spill.

And these are just the current problems. Some of the chemicals will remain in the soil and waterways, only to be dredged up later, or end up in a kid's backyard sandcastle. I can see a new service industry emerging in this country: cleaning up pipeline spills, storm impacts, fire damage.... and fat pockets for the health insurance providers.


  1. We really need a look at our vocabulary. Health care is preventive medicine and a clean environment. Health care is clean water and good food without pesticides. Sick care is medicine and surgery while health care is regular exercise. We need cures for cancer and lots more but we need to focus on prevention of disease but there's no money in health care. The cash is in sick care.

  2. Tell it like it is!
    Your headline uses the overworked and inaccurate term "spill" to describe what you state in your lead sentence as a "rupture" of a pipeline. More precise and descriptive words like burst or pipeline failure would do much to translate to readers the reality of what is happening.
    Keep up the good work of reporting this industry's process for exploiting fossil fuels.

    1. The pipeline broke/ruptured/exploded...
      the crud spilled out.

  3. Thanks for posting this. I'm wondering to what degree the oil may have penetrated porous basement walls or foundation slabs. I see a wooden fence in the picture above: surely the bases of the fence posts are saturated with oil by now. Even if they were to haul away all of the affected soil, how would they ever completely clean up this mess and who would ever want to buy a home in this community?

  4. The people in Mayflower ( and anywhere along the pipeline routes) are just considered collateral damage by energy corporations when these accidents happen.

  5. Go Solar. Support local organic farms. Overthrow ur town board. Ban Fracking

  6. I wish R-Tom Reed would read this!