Tuesday, April 2, 2013

17 Ways to Look at Pipeline Spills (with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

photo by resident, Mayflower, Arkansas Mar. 29, 2013
1. From your neighbor's back porch.
Maybe there was a swimming pool, or maybe it was just the swingset... but now it's thousands of gallons of heavy, stinky crude bitumen from Canadian Tar Sands, courtesy of EXXON. "Share this widely," said an email. "Local authorities have denied the media access so few have seen the extent of this spill."
March 29, 2013 - Mayflower, Arkansas

2. Through the eyes of a family of beavers who have sacrificed their home - and their store of spring twigs for noshing - to halt the flow of diesel into Willard Bay. Third spill in three years! March 27, 2013 - Ogden, Utah

3. From small town America - July 27, 2012, Grand Marsh, Wisconsin

4. From the banks of the Yellowstone River three days before celebrating our nation's independence. July 1, 2011 Billings, Montana

5. From a leak along the Keystone... don't worry! It's just a transnational flesh wound.
May 7, 2011 Brampton, North Dakota

6. As the reason for five funerals. February 10, 2011 Allentown, Pennsylvania

7.  A loud and noisy explosion in the middle of the neighborhood. January 18, 2011 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

8. In what used to be a furniture store.  December 29, 2010  Wayne, Michigan

9. From the point of view of a utility worker wondering if he's the next victim. September 28, 2010  Cairo, Georgia

10. As numbers: eight lives lost, 55 homes damaged, and unmeasurable sorrow. Sept 9, 2010 San Bruno, California

11. As yet another call to responders to clean up yet another Enbridge spill... September 9, 2010 Romeoville, Illinois

12. Through the oily mist of an orange and brown geyser. July 27, 2010 Barataria Bay, Louisiana

13. Beneath the surface of one of the largest spills since BP's Earth Day disaster in the Gulf of Mexico just a few short months ago...  July 26, 2010  Kalamazoo River, Michigan

14. As an oil slick on the city's drinking water. July 6, 2010  Justiceberg, Texas

15. While riding a bicycle around the Liberty Park loop. June 11, 2010 Salt Lake City, Utah

16. ooops! And other, less printable comments...  May 25, 2010 Trans-Alaska pipeline

17. As data reported to government statisticians at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration where data are pie-charted and analyzed over three-year and five-year increments.

This very short list does not include:
The March 27, 2013 Minnesota train derailment that leaked tens of thousands of gallons of tar sand oils, the January 2013 barge spills on the Mississippi River, the leaks from storage facilities due to Hurricane Sandy (October 2012) nor the ironic Earth Day blowout of Deepwater Horizon (April 20, 2010). Nor does it include spills, ruptures, explosions, etc in Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia or Africa.

Last year, in the US alone, there were 364 spills from pipelines. This year, as of February 28, there have been 41 reports of spills - 70% of which were caused by failure of materials, welding, or equipment - racking up damage costs of more than $3 million.


  1. Great idea and execution, Sue.

    I find it a creative challenge to present this info both concisely, and also to engage the reader. It takes real editorial skill.

    This one's a score :)

  2. BEAUTIFUL in the sentiment and tragic in the reality.

  3. horrible to read the extent of the spills and impacts to Earth from human irresponsibility; good job of organizing this nasty information...

  4. Thanks for telling the story the lame stream media ignores... here are a few more "Cleaner Burning Explosions"