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William Crandell: Mayflower spill a sign of things to come

Published 11:21am Monday, April 15, 2013

By William Crandell, The Democratic Voice

Recently, our country witnessed another major oil spill. This one wasn’t out at sea or the middle of nowhere, but right in the front yard of small town America.
An estimated 12,000 barrels of crude were spilled in Mayflower, Ark., forcing the evacuation of 21 homes. The oil spilled is the same heavy crude that will be coming from the Canadian Tar Sands region and will be running through the backyards of over 5,000 homes if the Keystone XL pipeline is built. It is also further proof that it’s time we start looking at other forms of energy and stop believing the lies of corporate America before we inflict irreparable damage to our environment.
This recent spill is a result of America’s crumbling infrastructure. The burst pipe was 65 years old and was built to carry a thinner type of oil while under less pressure, and was designed to flow in the opposite direction. It should have been replaced before running Tar Sands crude through it, but it would not have been cost effective, and the health of that community was put at risk to preserve the profit of the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Federal regulations enforced by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is a part of the Transportation Department, do not yet have safety guidelines for this type of heavy crude flowing in pipelines. Apparently, reversing the flow added undue stress to the line and is possibly the cause.
According to findings by Inside Climate News, from 2006-2010 there were 328 significant pipeline events due to this type of material failure or corrosion. These incidents continue to happen and very little is being done about it.
One of the most troubling aspects of the spill was that our government allowed Exxon Mobil to seize control of the scene and they are threatening to arrest journalists who attempt to gain access to the site and they were also allowed to enforce a “no fly zone” unless permission was granted by the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Is that the way things are going to be now? Corporate America controlling the flow of information while the government stands by letting them set the tone of how dangerous an incident is. They’re here to protect us and not corporate America; we sign their paycheck not Exxon Mobil.
The Mayflower spill is an excellent example of what we can expect in the future if we build the Keystone Pipeline. It proves that these companies are not responsible when it comes to running toxic substances through our backyards.
Some say that the government will monitor the pipeline closely, but the GOP has been attacking the budget of government watch dog agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency for years and have no qualms about cutting it. A handful of inspectors will not be enough to keep an eye on the whole nation.
People will die, but jobs will be created and Exxon Mobil will make their money.

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