If there were people out there that didn’t already know that the Keystone XL pipeline was a huge environmental gamble, the recent Exxon oil sands pipe rupture in Mayflower, Arkansas that has spewed an estimated 84,000 gallons of toxic sludge over the sleepy town should be waking people up.
There’s a few reasons though why this type of spill is not your ordinary BP disaster, and it’s not about the amount of oil spilled it’s about the type of oil being spilled, where it’s going and who’s responsible for the clean up. Allow to me to create you a bullet list:
- The oil that was spilled is not the standard crude oil that we have all become accustomed to. What spewed out in the streets, backyards, lakes and streams in Mayflower is something called “dilbit” or diluted bitumen. This is a solid material that is mixed with chemicals to turn it into a liquid state which makes it more corrosive and caustic than regular crude oil and poses more risk of rupturing pipelines because of this.
- A dilbit spill poses two very distinct and different threats than the standard oil spill we have all become familiar with and when you hear what comes next if it doesn’t scare you, then there’s something wrong with you. Dilbit does not act like regular crude oil during a spill because of the chemicals added to it to make it fluid and because of its sheer density – when spilled it rapidly begins to evaporate toxic chemicals into the air causing huge health risks to residents and emergency workers, and should the spill happen in a waterway you might as well forget putting out booms to collect it because most of that dilbit is going to sink below the surface of the water and wreak havoc in a whole new way.
- Although the pipeline is owned and operated by Exxon, they are about to take advantage of a loophole in US law that could see Exxon be legally let off the hook for the spill simply because they were transporting dilbit and not crude oil. A law from the 1980’s which should require Exxon to now put money into a national oil spill cleanup fund does not include updated wording to include dilbit, therefore allowing Exxon to not pay fines that would go towards cleaning up the mess they created.
Now dear reader, here comes the photo gallery you’ve been waiting for. Photos released from the United States Environmental Protection Agency are putting a new face on the depth and the destruction of the spill, even though Exxon has done its best to keep reporters, news and citizens out of the area so they can hide the mess they’ve created. Take a look at the photos, and leave a comment below to say whether you still support the expansion of the pipeline or not.
- As Exxon cleans oil spill in Arkansas, Shell pipeline spills 700 barrels in Houston (treehugger.com)
- Exxon won’t pay for cleanup fund because Arkansas oil spill isn’t “oil” (treehugger.com)
- Exxon Will Not Pay for Cleanup of 12,000 Barrels of Crude in Arkansas as Leak is Not “Oil” (inhabitat.com)
- Exxon oil spill floods Arkansas town, wildlife (newsfixnow.com)
- 6 Things You Need to Know About the Arkansas Oil Spill (alternet.org)
- It’s A Dirty Job, But Exxon’s Not Gonna Pay For It (Because They Don’t feel Like It) (addictinginfo.org)
- Does Tar Sand Oil Increase the Risk of Pipeline Spills? (scientificamerican.com)
- PHOTOS: Decades of Exxon oil spills & explosions (greenpeaceblogs.org)
- 14 questions for Exxon from an oil spill expert (greenpeaceblogs.org)
- Tar sands oil spill? Or just ‘heavy’ oil spill? Exxon loves having it both ways (dailykos.com)