If the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is causing us to reconsider deep-sea drilling, then last week’s oil disaster in Michigan should give us pause about constructing new oil pipelines. And taken together, the spills spotlight what’s wrong with our nation’s energy direction.
Patrick D. Daniel, chief executive of Enbridge Inc., apologized last week for “the mess we made.” He was referring to the pipeline rupture that dumped about a million gallons of crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Though we’re sure that Daniel genuinely regrets that it was his company’s turn to advertise the obvious dangers of continuing our nation’s dependence on oil, this time, sorry’s not good enough.
The immediate consequences of this particular “mess” are bad enough. Thirty miles of the Kalamazoo River were fouled. Birds, fish and other wildlife were killed or oiled. People had to be evacuated from their homes because of high levels of benzene in the air. When the heavy crude passed through the city of Battle Creek, the Kellogg Co. even had to stop making Corn Flakes.
The Kalamazoo empties directly into Lake Michigan. If oil had reached that lake, it would have been, in the words of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, “a tragedy of historic proportions.” Although the Kalamazoo has come a long way from the days when it was the site for paper mills that dumped chemical waste directly into the river, a stretch of the river is still a Superfund site, and scientists warn that the spilled oil could release pollutants buried in the river’s sediment, unleashing even more toxins.
Read More: LA Times