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Framing the New Government Documents on the 2010 Enbridge Oil Disaster in Michigan

May 23, 2012

Within the last 24 hours, numerous West Michigan news sources have reported on the newly released government documents related to the 2010 Enbridge oil disaster that caused nearly 1 million gallons of oil to contaminate the Kalamazoo River.

The Mlive reporter out of Kalamazoo states, “The 158 documents and 58 photos will provide the factual basis for the National Transportation Safety Board’s conclusion of what caused the spill.”

The Mlive story goes on to cite a spokesperson for the Natural Re­sources Defense Council, who made reference to what this new information could mean as it relates to the pipeline system that Enbridge will be responsible for in the Keystone Tar Sands Project.

Despite the limited discussion around the Keystone Tar Sands Project, much of the coverage was focused on the release of the documents, but not what they concluded.

In addition, the MLive story also includes a response from Enbridge, as did most of the other major media sources in West Michigan. The WOOD TV 8 story quoted an Enbridge executive who stated, “Safety has always been core to our operations. We have reviewed our processes and procedures since the Line 6B incident, and we have enhanced our focus on the safety and integrity of our operations even further.”

The only major news agency in West Michigan that framed the story differently was the Battle Creek Enquire. Their headline had a different tone with, Documents shed light on Enbridge spill response. The Battle Creek Enquire article just does a better job of framing the story, by reporting on what some of the documents say. The documents reveal that the response time by Enbridge was faulty and the alarm designed to go off when pipeline breaks occurred, wasn’t working.

The documents released are worth reading and they reveal other useful bits of information as well.

Lastly, it is important to point out that in none of the West Michigan news coverage of these new documents was their any reference to the company’s track record on oil spills and pipeline leaks. According to a report from the group Tar Sands Watch,

Between 1999 and 2010, across all of Enbridge’s operations there have been 804 spills that have released 168,645 barrels (approximately 26.81 million litres, or 7.08 million gallons) of hydrocarbons into the environment.159 This amounts to approximately half of the oil that spilled from the oil tanker the Exxon Valdez after it struck a rock in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1988.

Reporting the track record of Enbridge on oil spills and pipeline leaks should have been a priority for reporters, but we have come to learn that such reporting has not been consisted with how they have covered this issue from the very beginning.


One Comment leave one →
  1. kas0157 permalink
    May 24, 2012 3:20 am

    Total spills on Enbridge Pipe lines watch are despicable!

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