Tar sands oil spill victim warns Ontario about dangers of Enbridge proposal: Hearings into plan open on Wednesday in London
London, ON — Two days before hearings open into a plan to ship risky tar sands oil through southwestern Ontario, a victim of a tar sands oil pipeline spill is warning Ontarians to say no.
Susan Connelly, a mother of two in Marshall, Michigan, knows first-hand the dangers of shipping tar sands oil through pipelines. Unlike conventional oil, diluted bitumen is hotter, more corrosive and harder to clean up.
Connelly’s children were in day care close to a devastating tar sands oil spill. In 2010, about 3 million litres spilled from an Enbridge pipeline into the Kalamazoo River. A state government survey of local residents found that 58 per cent experienced spill-related-symptoms.
Her message to London-area residents is simple: “When tar sands oil spills, people get sick. Please don’t let this happen to Ontario.”
“My son started throwing up. My daughter had a strange rash. There were headaches, nausea, burning of eyes,” she said. “And two years later, there’s still machinery up and down a 40-mile [64km] stretch of the river to clean things up.”
Her warning of the risks—to human health, as well as fresh water—inherent to Enbridge’s proposal came in a radio ad. It’s being run by Environmental Defence, which will be speaking at National Energy Board hearings into Enbridge’s risky plan. They take place in London on Wednesday, May 23.
The Michigan spill was the largest tar sands oil spill in American history. And it underlines the risks of replacing conventional oil with tar sands oil in pipelines, as Enbridge would like to do with its ageing Line 9 pipeline. It runs from Sarnia to Montreal, and is part of a larger scheme to get tar sands oil to the Atlantic coast for export.
Connelly said communities along the path of a pipeline that carries tar sands oil should be wary. Enbridge’s own statistics show more than 800 spills from its pipelines from 1999 to 2010. And as tar sands oil replaces conventional oil in more pipelines, those spills will do more damage.
“When we talk about going for a nice river walk, my son says ‘Mommy, are we going to walk in the oil.’ That’s how a five-year-old child thinks of his river. As oil,” she said.
At the time of the spill, Connelly’s son was four years old; her daughter was two.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Gillian McEachern, Deputy Campaign Director, Environmental Defence, (613) 292-4416