For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Mark Westlund,, 415-977-5719

Kendall Mackey,, 913-908-6072 

Advocates Discuss Upcoming Anniversary of Kalamazoo River Tar Sands Spill, Growing Movement to Block Tar Sands Invasion

MICHIGAN - Five years ago, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured, spilling over 1 million gallons of toxic tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in the biggest on-shore spill in U.S. history. As the communities along the river continue to deal with the severe negative health and economic impacts of the spill, the tar sands industry has continued its attempts to flood the Midwest with more dirty tar sands, threatening the health, safety, and livelihoods of the communities in the region.

This afternoon, national and local advocates hosted a telephonic press briefing to discuss the events planned to commemorate this disastrous spill as well as the growing movement in the Midwest to keep communities safe and block dirty tar sands infrastructure.

“It's been five years since Enbridge dumped over one million gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River, the ongoing remediation efforts have cost over one billion dollars, yet the spill still has not been cleaned up entirely, nor the wetlands restored,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “Dirty fuels like tar sands crude need to stay in the ground so they won't destroy the environment, pollute our drinking water, or force people to evacuate their homes. That's why President Obama must not allow Enbridge to develop extensive new oil infrastructure, like the Alberta Clipper pipeline, and instead steer the nation to clean energy prosperity.”

Jean Ross, President of National Nurses United addressed concerns among public health professionals about the dangers of tar sands spills: “If you look at people who live anywhere near where there has been a spill, you hear complaints of the same health issues – complaints of migraines, complaints of seizures, and incidences of rare cancers. These exposures don’t need to happen. Because we are so concerned about the public health we are in a good position to join those people who are saying, ‘no more drilling, no more pipelines, keep this stuff in the ground.’”

Linda L. Cypret-Kilbourne, of the local Potawatomi tribe in Michigan, added, “You hear about people on the river developing all sorts of health issues. I am a great-grandmother, I have 16 great-grandkids who I love very much. And the thought that we might lose one because this happened five years ago and because of exposure to this is absolutely devastating.”

Hundreds of activists are expected to gather in Battle Creek, Michigan on Saturday to commemorate the disaster of five years ago and to continue to build the movement growing across the Midwest to keep communities safe and healthy and block dirty tar sands infrastructure.

More information about the “Remember Kalamazoo” events next weekend is available at


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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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