The Council of Canadians is calling on the Wisconsin Ministry of Natural Resources to stop a dock project that would allow for the construction of an oil terminal and the eventual transportation of tar sands crude through the Great Lakes.
“This oil barge dock is the next big threat to the Great Lakes. The tar sands crude being transported from Enbridge’s Line 67 from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin is going to double and will be put directly onto barges to travel across the Great Lakes if this dock is constructed,” warns Maude Barlow National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
In a letter to the Minister of Natural Resources, Council of Canadians Water Campaigner Emma Lui writes: “We are extremely concerned about the plan proposed by Calumet and Elkhorn to build an oil barge and ship tar sands crude from Superior, Wisconsin on the western tip of Lake Superior, through the Great Lakes. The plan would increase the amount of tar sands crude shipped on the lakes and not only threatens the lakes but also threatens wildlife and the drinking water of Great Lakes communities.”
The Council of Canadians raises a number of concerns including the increase in tar sands crude being transported to and across the Great Lakes, the potential for oil spills, and the need to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior and other communities. The Council warns the Ministry of Natural Resources that in 2010, the Office of the Auditor General reported that Canada is not ready for a major oil spill.
The letter reminds the Ministry of the dangers of an oil spill: “When tar sands pipelines spill, they jeopardize freshwater supplies and cause extensive environmental damage that is difficult to clean up. Tar sands crude, known as bitumen, is heavy and requires toxic chemicals to dilute it. In 2010, a tar sands pipeline ruptured, flooding the Kalamazoo River in Michigan with 3.8 million litres of diluted bitumen that sank to the bottom of the river. Conventional clean-up methods have not worked and, despite costing over $1 billion, the river is still polluted.”
The Council of Canadians is calling for the Great Lakes to be recognized as a commons, public trust and protected bioregion and is calling for a ban on all bunker oil in ships travelling the Great Lakes and no more tar sands pipelines carrying bitumen to the Great Lakes refineries.
To read the Council of Canadians letter, click here.