Life Among Tar Sands

Author: Rachel Novick


News agencies around the world have provided in-depth coverage of the controversial proposed Keystone Pipeline "tar sands" oil project, but few people have heard of the "tar sands" pipelines that are right here in Michiana. Learn more about the Michiana pipeline at this panel discussion followed by Q&A.

Cleanup of the spill has been complicated by the fact that a significant fraction of the dilbit sank in the river water, contaminating the riverbed and making cleanup difficult.  Cleanup activities are ongoing but have failed to meet EPA’s required completion date. In July 2010, a pipeline ruptured spilling over 800,000 US gallons of ‘dilbit’ oil into Talmadge Creek, a tributary to the Kalamazoo River in Southwestern Michigan. The burst pipeline, 6B, is operated by the Canadian corporation Enbridge, Inc. and was carrying diluted bitumen (dilbit), a heavy crude oil from Canada’s Athabasca Tar Sands. This was the largest on-land oil spill to date in North America. 

Four experts will present on various aspects of the Enbridge pipelines and then take questions from the audience:

Dr. Stephen Hamilton, professor of Ecosystem Ecology and Biogeochemistry at Michigan State University and the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, will present the ecological ramifications of the Kalamazoo River spill.

Dr. Patricia Maurice, professor in the Notre Dame Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, and also a homeowner along the Line 6B replacement project, will discuss problems encountered by local homeowners and communities along the project.

Dr. Jeff Insko, English professor and coordinator of American Studies at Oakland University in Michigan, who is also a homeowner along Line 6B, director of the Line 6B Concerned Citizens’ Blog, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Pipeline Safety Trust, will discuss regulatory agencies and pipeline oversight.

Beth Wallace, Community Outreach Regional Coordinator for the Great Lakes Regional Center of the National Wildlife Federation and a Pipeline Safety Trust board member. She will show highlights of a film documenting problems with the pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

This event is free and open to the public.

Co-sponsors for this Reilly Forum event are Notre Dame's Law School, the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (cSEND), and GLOBES an interdisciplinary graduate training program in environment and society.