The Texas Office of Public Citizen is warning the Texas legislature of dangers associated with a pipeline project near drinking water sources in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.
Enbridge, Inc. has begun operation on the Seaway Pipeline, and Public Citizen claims it is similar to the company's Lakehead Line 6B pipeline in Michigan , which caused the most expensive pipeline spill in U.S history when it ruptured and dumped more than 1.1 million gallons of diluted tar sands bitumen into Michigan's Kalamazoo River nearly two years ago.
"The pipeline that spilled in Michigan was 43-years-old, and the pipeline that this company has acquired in Texas is 36-years-old. Both are being repurposed for tar sands from Canada, and we've been outlining some of the key issues with trying to transport tar sands in old oil pipelines," said Trevor Lovell, Environmental Program Coordinator for Public Citizen.
The organization is urging Texas lawmakers to be watchful of the company's work on this pipeline, and in a June 26th meeting of the Energy Resources Committee of the Texas House of Representatives, they called for the committee to prevent the use of aging pipelines like Seaway for diluted bitumen until the feedstock is better understood and new safety standards and protocols can be put into place.
"The Seaway pipeline threatens three major drinking water resources for the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. What's in these pipelines is not what you would typically think of as crude oil. It's something called diluted bitumen, which is made up of two components: a chemical diluent and the bitumen itself. Both are more toxic than oil, but the chemical diluent is far more toxic than oil," said Lovell.
Public Citizen has a problem with this, because companies that use these diluted bitumen pipelines do not have to disclose the list of chemicals that are in their pipelines.
"So, what happened in Michigan is that when that pipeline spilled first responders didn't have the information they needed to protect themselves and the public, and people weren't evacuated as quickly as they should have been and so a lot more people got sick," said Lovell.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Administration (PHMSA) is proposing a $3,500,000 fine for Enbridge, Inc. for the Michigan spill, however the cleanup costs are currently being estimated above $720,000,000.