“Praised be to You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.” The Canticle of Brother Sun by St. Francis of Assisi line 9
While we call for peace on earth and peace to all people during this Christmas season, we should also look at what we are doing to Mother Earth. A lot of discussion has been focussed on stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline from bringing tar sands from Canada to the United States, there are tar sands pipelines that have already begun pumping this heavy sludge into our country.
The tar sands are coming from northern Canada, home of the Arboreal Forest — one of the largest rain forests left on our earth. In order to get to the tar sands, these trees must be removed.
There is a pipeline running through Michigan that has already created a spill in the Kalamazoo river.
“Oil spill amounts
Enbridge initially reported the pipeline break released 819,000 gallons of crude. The company later revised that amount to 843,000 gallons. At EPA’s direction, Enbridge has provided regular, updated estimates of how much oil it has recovered since the spill. These estimates are based on methods worked out with EPA technical experts to determine the amount of oil in all waste recovery categories: oil, contaminated water, soil, vegetation, debris, and cleanup materials. As of this May, Enbridge estimates the company has recovered 1.15 million gallons of oil from the Kalamazoo River.
Remaining oil and future recovery
EPA estimates about 180,000 gallons of Line 6B oil (plus or minus 100,000 gallons) remain in the river bottom sediment. EPA has ordered Enbridge to remove the recoverable oil (about 12,000-18,000 gallons) by dredging.
The 162,000-168,000 gallons of oil that will remain in the river after this dredging work is complete will not be able to be recovered right away without causing significant adverse impacts to the river. Instead, it must be carefully monitored and collected over time using traps that gather contaminated sediment. Future oil recovery will depend on whether the crude eventually moves to the areas with these sediment traps.” EPA response to Enbridge Spill in Michigan, August 16, 2013
There are many frightening aspects of the impact of Tar Sands production on our environment. In some cases, old oil pipelines are being used to push through the Tar Sands to refineries in the U.S. Some have not been upgraded to account for the massive pressure needed to push this heavy tar through the pipes. There have been a number of spills already. The Kalamazoo river is only one. They can dredge up the heavy tar, but the chemicals in the tar sands are mixed in the water. Information is not forthcoming on the dangers of these chemicals on the water supply.
The tar sands coming from Canada into Indiana and nearby are being refined by the British Petroleum Refinery in Whiting, Indiana. The waste product is called pet coke. This product is transported by KCBX (Koch Brothers) into Chicago, Illinois and stored without cover on the Southeast Side. On any windy day this product (which is like a fine ash) will fly around residential neighborhoods nearby. Residents have to keep their windows closed, children cannot play outside, and everything is covered by this pet coke. This product is then sold outside the U.S. for heating, especially to China. If you have seen the latest pictures from Shanghai, you will see why China does not need anymore dirty fuel to add to their pollution.
On a positive note. Pressure from the residents of the Southeast Side and activists have caused one storage place to remove the pet coke. The Koch brothers still maintain another open storage space nearby.
May we continue the struggle for Peace on Earth and Peace for Earth this Christmas and for the coming years. Our children deserve a future filled with beauty.
For further information go to http://www.tarsandsfreemidwest.org or join Tar Sands Free Midwest on Facebook.