The explosion at a Detroit tar sands refinery on Saturday evening is still under investigation and the cause is unknown according to a notice filed with the US National Response Center.
Marathon Petroleum Corporation stated in the filing that a fire broke out in the sour water tank. The sour water tank is the tank where the pollutants that are used in the refining process have to be removed from the waste water before it can be further processed. (Source: Reuters) This explosion and subsequent fire represent yet another problem with using tar sands for a fuel source. The chemicals used in the process of extracting the oil from the sands are toxic and, apparently, flammable. The residents near the refinery have been told it is safe to return to their homes but they are still concerned about possible exposure to chemicals. (Source: WCHB)
This explosion comes just under a month after Exxon’s Pegasus Pipeline burst near Mayflower, Arkansas spilling over 10,000 barrels of unprocessed tar sands oil into the community and a train carrying tar sands derailed spilling about 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in Minnesota. Tar sands oil is particularly difficult to clean up because it is heavier that normal crude oil so it sinks in water. The oil being transported is also laden with the chemicals used in the extraction process, which uses nearly as much energy as it produces. (Source: Inside Climate News)
The EPA has issued a statement condemning the State Department’s assessment of the safety of the Keystone XL pipeline that has been proposed. They said, in part, that the State Department assessment included “inadequate information” on environmental issues and they had failed to consider alternative routes. This coming from the organization that recently increased the “safe” amount of radiation. If they are not willing to say that this pipeline is safe, who can reasonably argue that it is? Considering all of the dangers and damage associated with mining tar sands and the limited amount of energy they produce, it is long past time that we put an end to this environmental disaster. (Source: Tar Sands Blockade)
Edited by AEK