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Save The River’s Winter Conference to Feature Panel on Oil Transport

January 5th, 2015 | Posted by admin

Transporting Tar Sands Oil is Problematic

A tug recently sank down river of Montreal, releasing almost 7,000 gallons of fuel that is still being cleaned up. Fault hasn’t been assigned, but is blame important when the fuel or the toxic cargo is already in the water and spreading?

There is a huge difference between a tug and a tanker carrying the equivalent of 300 to 600 rail cars or 1,000 to 2,500 trucks of tar sands oil. It is a difference that should concern everyone who shares the use of the St. Lawrence River. A spill of that magnitude of tar sands oil, a cargo the Coast Guard has admitted it is “not prepared to handle,” would quickly dwarf the capabilities of first responders, would devastate the river for almost any conceivable use, would lay waste to the environment of one of North America’s most significant rivers and devastate the economies of communities along its shores in two countries.

Maybe lower oil prices will temporarily reduce the intense pressure, and thus the risk to our river, that has been building to get tar sands oil to market by whatever means possible. But maybe they won’t because producers will still seek the cheapest transportation alternative without regard to environmental impacts.

The proposals for new pipelines and ship terminals are still around. History shows we frequently construct beyond our ability to mitigate. The river community needs to shape the debate about such shipments and demand that not one drop of heavy oil should be put on a ship or in a rail car on or near the St. Lawrence River until response plans have been developed and tested and the Coast Guard and local first responders have the equipment and training to effectively implement them.

Become involved. Attend our Winter Environmental Conference on Feb. 7. We will have a panel of experts from the Coast Guard, spill responders, academia and advocacy organizations discussing the issue.

Letter to the Editor by Lee Willbanks
Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper / Executive Director

Published by the Watertown Daily Times on January 5th, 2015.

Click here to view the print article.

Click here for conference information.

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