Breaking: 12,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil spilled in Arkansas
The ExxonMobile Pegasus Pipeline runs from Pakota, Illinois, to Nederland, Texas. It is more than 60 years old and it has the capacity to transport more than 90,000 barrels of oil per day.
Last Friday, in Little Rock, Arkansas, it burst.
Twelve thousand barrels of Canadian tar sands oil ran into the backyards of a housing development near Lake Conway, Arkansas. Twenty-two homes were evacuated. The spill occurred in the Lake Maumelle watershed, which provides drinking water to nearly 400,000 people in central Arkansas.
To make matters even worse, tar sands oil, (crude oil) is not legally considered “conventional oil.” That means it is not taxed as conventional oil.
This means ExxonMobile is exempt from contributing to the government’s oil spillage cleanup fund, even though many argue that tar sands oil is more toxic and more corrosive to pipes than conventional oil.
Oil spills can have serious health impacts; residents impacted by the 2010 Enbridge tar sands oil spill reported health symptoms, including seizures. David Turnbull, campaign director for Oil Change International, puts the current Arkansas spill and the massive 2010 Enbridge spill into context:
Tar sands oil spills, or bitumen spills, are indeed more dangerous than ‘conventional oil’ spills. We have already seen the extreme costs and damages of tar sands oil spills in recent years, most notably in Michigan where an Enbridge pipeline carrying tar sands in 2010 resulted in the costliest on-land oil spill in US history…
As these sorts of heavy oils that are exempt from this tax continue to make up a larger percentage of oil transported in the US, it will only serve to stretch the fund even further, while putting families, communities, and ecosystems at greater risk,” Turnbull said.
See this aerial video footage of last Friday’s spill by video journalist Adam Randall:
Giving voice to the gut-level response from people disturbed by the destruction, Eric Peters, co-founder of the Growing Community project of West Chester, Pennsylvania, commented:
This is already an ecological disaster. The fight against extreme energy extraction and for a just and sustainable world is in every sense a fight for our survival.