No Safe 'Delivery Mechanisms for the Poison': 30,000 Gallons of Oil Spill in Minn. Derailment

Published on
by
Common Dreams

No Safe 'Delivery Mechanisms for the Poison': 30,000 Gallons of Oil Spill in Minn. Derailment

"The real way to protect our land, water and climate is to break our addiction," says 350.org's Jamie Henn

by
Andrea Germanos, staff writer

(Photo: Doug Bellefeuille/Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

Up to 30,000 gallons of oil spilled on Wednesday when a mile-long train carrying the crude derailed in Minnesota, giving further evidence that there are no safe "delivery mechanisms for the poison" of fossil fuels.  

14 of a Canadian Pacific train's 94 cars went off the tracks near the town of Parkers Prairie in western Minnesota on Wednesday morning, and, the Associated Press reports, up to three cars leaked or spilled oil.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Dan Olson told AP that just one of the cars spilled most of its 26,000-gallon contents.

Reuters cites Canadian Pacific spokesperson Ed Greenberg, who said he was unsure if the oil the train was transporting from Alberta was tar sands oil or conventional oil.

Reactions from officials soon followed that dismissed ecological catastrophes.

"We are focusing on drawing up the loose (oil) ... and once that has been taken up, they will then pump up the remaining oil in the tanks," Olson said. "Because of the winter conditions, the ground is frozen and there is not any damage to surface water or ground water. After the initial recovery we will see if the oil has soaked into the soil at all."

"Only about 1,000 gallons has been recovered," according to Olson.  "The remaining oil on the ground has thickened into a heavy tar-like consistency."

Yet following a nearly 30,000-gallon leak of diesel fuel from a Chevron-owned pipeline in Utah last week, John Whitehead, assistant director of the Utah Division of Water Quality and spill response leader said that traces of petrochemicals were already turning up in water samples, and said, "There’s no way you’re going to dump 20,000 gallons of diesel on the ground and not see a little dissolved product get through the system."

Some have jumped on the Minnesota derailment and spill as a sign to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and expand the pipeline system, and Reuters adds that "There has been a rapid increase in rail transport of crude in the last three years as booming North American oil production has outgrown existing pipeline capacity."

One example is Don Canton, spokesman for Keystone XL-proponent North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, who reacted to the spill saying, "This is why we need the Keystone XL. Pipelines are both safe and efficient."

This is a ridiculous claim, say environmental groups, and disregards the planet's climate emergency and the growing need to break our addiction to fossil fuels.

For 350.org spokesperson Jamie Henn, "Saying we need to consume tar sands via pipeline because rail lines are dangerous is like saying we need to smoke crack because its better than heroin. Pipelines are also prone to disaster, just look at Exxon's recent spill in the Yellowstone River or the major Enbridge disaster in Kalamazoo."

"The real way to protect our land, water and climate is to break our addiction, not debate delivery mechanisms for the poison," said Henn.

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