Crude oil has no place on the River or its tributaries. While at the Great Lakes Public Forum, Riverkeeper and Save The River’s Executive Director had a chance to remind the panelists of the 1976 Nepco 140 spill of 300,000 gallons of crude oil on the St. Lawrence River – at the time the largest inland oil spill in North America and to ask about measures to deal with spills from pipelines, and rail, as well as ships.
Save The River has been fighting to protect the vulnerable and fragile natural and human environment on the St. Lawrence River for its entire history.
Although refined petroleum products are currently transported on the River, crude oil is not. Two very different and very dangerous types of crude are poised to transit the St. Lawrence River. One, Bakken crude, is extremely volatile, even explosive as seen in numerous “bomb train” incidents in recent years. The other, tar sands oil, is heavy enough to sink in freshwater where, with current technology it is unrecoverable.
Shipping on the St. Lawrence River has long been an all-risk and no-reward proposition, and the shipment of crude oil will exponentially increase the risk to our environment, our economy and our communities.
Having suffered a major oil spill on the St. Lawrence River, we know all too well the risks involved with even traditional cargoes. As pressure increases to bring these dangerous cargoes to the waters of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, either in the holds of ships, through pipelines or in rail cars, we must take steps to protect our River before it’s too late.
The whole Great Lakes Public Forum was live streamed by Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Now coverage. Click here for their coverage.