Tag Archives: bitumen

Undercover at the Tar Sands: What It’s Really Like Working for Big Oil

28 Aug

An anonymous worker reveals conditions at ground zero for Canada’s controversial pipelines

from Rolling Stone


from Getty Images

Editor’s Note: In recent months, many climate activists have focused their efforts on Canada’s tar sands and the companies set on extracting fossil fuels from them. With the debate raging louder than ever, Rolling Stone is in contact with one of the workers helping to build a pipeline to bring oil from the tar sands to the U.S. Read on for that anonymous correspondent’s second dispatch from one of the world’s most controversial jobs.

On its surface, Fort McMurray, Alberta, looks like any other small Canadian city, with rows of new houses, condo developments and a Wal-Mart. Recycling bins line the streets, and residents schlep cloth bags to the store because the community banned plastic bags. But there’s one big difference between Fort Mac and other towns: This is ground zero for Canada’s controversial tar sands operations. Like tens of thousands of others, I saw green in the tar-like bitumen-drenched sand, and I came here to cash in. (I’m writing anonymously to protect my colleagues, my friends and myself.)

Read Our Undercover Correspondent’s First Dispatch from the Tar Sands

The majority of oil-related work happens north of town. Follow Highway 63 for about 20 minutes and you’ll see a sprawling series of smoke stacks at the Syncrude Canada Ltd. processing facility. You can smell the oil in the air, and smog hangs across the otherwise crisp northern horizon. Drive further, and things get even worse. Koch Carbon’s giant pile of petroleum coke in Detroit is nothing compared to what the oil companies have up here. Shell, Imperial Oil, Exxon, Encana, Husky, BP, Suncor Energy, CNR, Southern Pacific and Petro-Canada all have a stake in this game, and there’s an estimated 170 billion barrels of crude on the line.

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Trans Mountain Pipeline Shut Down After Second Leak In One Month

27 Jun

Canadian Press

HOPE, B.C. — Another leak has been detected along Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline which crosses southern British Columbia carrying petroleum products from Alberta.

Kinder Morgan spokesman Andy Galarnyk confirms the line has been shut down as a precaution after a company crew noticed a problem in the Hope area, about 150 kilometres east of Vancouver.

Galarnyk says regulatory agencies and local authorities have been notified and the company is following the same procedures used on June 12 when a small leak occurred near Merritt, about 120 kilometres north of Hope.

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BREAKING: Activist has Climbed Inside Enbridge Tar Sands Pipe in Michigan

24 Jun

UPDATE: Chris has been arrested and is in need of bail funds. Please donate to his bail fund here.

by Rabb!t / Earth First! Newswire

Chris "The Whammer" at the pipe entrance.

Chris “The Whammer” at the pipe entrance.

Early this morning Chris “The Whammer” Wahmoff climbed inside a segment of Enbridge’s Line 6B Pipe south of Marshall, Michigan, to halt reconstruction of the line. Chris used a skateboard to slide-crawl his way deep into the pipe, where he has said he is prepared to stay until at least 5:00 PM tonight. Chris is part of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI-CATS), a grassroots group that seeks to stop all transportation and refining of tar sands in Michigan, and advocates against tar sands production and transportation everywhere.

Chris is positioned less than half a mile from where the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline broke in 2010, spilling bituminous sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. The oil was being transported through the pipeline from Canada to the United States. Recent water samples have shown that the river is still contaminated, some three years after the spill occurred, yet Enbridge is already at work reconstructing this stretch of the line. Chris’s action is an attempt to halt construction, and bring attention to the fact that Enbridge is moving on with this dangerous project without having cleaned up the spill from the previous line. 

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Greenpeace FOIA Exposes Exxon Lies About Mayflower, AR Spill

26 May

The cove of Lake Conway which Exxon claimed was “oil-free”

Cross Posted From GreenPeace Blog

On March 29 ExxonMobil, the most profitable company in the world, spilled at least 210,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil from an underground pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas. The pipeline was carrying tar sands oil from Canada, which flooded family residences in Mayflower in thick tarry crude. Exxon’s tar sands crude also ran into Lake Conway, which sits about an eighth of a mile from where Exxon’s pipeline ruptured.

A new batch of documents received by Greenpeace in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has revealed that Exxon downplayed the extent of the contamination caused by the ruptured pipeline. Records of emails between Arkansas’ DEQ and Exxon depict attempts by Exxon to pass off press releases with factually false information. In a draft press release dated April 8, Exxon claims “Tests on water samples show Lake Conway and the cove are oil-free.” However, internal emails from April 6 show Exxon knew of significant contamination across Lake Conway and the cove resulting from the oil spill.

When the chief of Arkansas Hazardous Waste division called Exxon out on this falsehood, Exxon amended the press release. However, they did not amend it to say that oil was in Lake Conway and contaminant levels in the lake were rising to dangerous levels, as they knew to be the case. Instead, they continue to claim that Lake Conway is “oil-free.” For the record, Exxon maintains that the “cove,” a section of Lake Conway that experienced heavy oiling from the spill, is not part of the actual lake. Exxon maintains this distinction in spite of Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel saying unequivocally “The cove is part of Lake Conway…The water is all part of one body of water.” Furthermore, Exxon water tests confirmed that levels of Benzene and other contaminants rose throughout the lake, not just in the cove area.

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Exxon’s Duck-Killing Pipeline Won’t Pay Taxes To Oil Spill Cleanup Fund

3 Apr

Spilled crude oil is seen in a drainage ditch near evacuated homes near Starlite Road in Mayflower, Arkansas March 31, 2013 (Reuters / Jacob Slaton)

from Think Progress

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.

The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead ducks covered in oil.

The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.
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