On Sunday July 25, 2010, a pipeline carrying tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada, burst open and spilled more than 1.1 million gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, near Marshall, Michigan. The oil coated wildlife and birds, soaked into wetlands and waterways, and directly impacted farmland, businesses, homes and communities as far as 40 miles away. After a delay of 17 hours, workers arrived on the scene and found that the sludgy, toxic, tar sands crude sinks in water, rather than floats – making it much more difficult to clean up. Recovery efforts have already cost over $800 million, and the price paid in ecological and human health is hard to measure.
As we move into the final phase of the Our Common Waters campaign, we’re taking a close look at expanding tar sands development across North America. From the strip mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the spider web of pipelines expanding across the U.S. and Canada, to ports and coastal areas that would act as hubs for export: at every point in the chain of production and transportation, water is at risk. The water we drink, the water we fish, the water we swim and boat in, the only water we have.
We’re asking ourselves and our community: Is it worth it?
[Above: Vast open-pit bitumen mines require massive clear-cutting of the pristine boreal forest in the Alberta tar sands. Photo: John Woods/Greenpeace]