Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) Calls for a Federal Investigation of the EPA and Enbridge

February 20, 2014

Chloe Gleichman, (734) 474-1974, elkecee@gmail.com
Liz Starke, (616) 212-7443, starkeel@gmail.com
Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) Calls for a Federal Investigation of the EPA and Enbridge for the Covering Up of Use of Toxic Chemical Dispersants in the Kalamazoo River, following the Reconsideration Hearing for Chris Wahmhoff

Though charges against the notorious MI CATS skateboarder Chris Wahmhoff were dismissed, the prosecutor has filed a motion for reconsideration. Following the hearing on the motion on Monday, February 24, MI CATS will call on the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate and report what many believe to be a conspired effort among the polluters and the agencies tasked with regulating them to hide the use of a highly toxic chemical oil dispersants known as Corexit 9500, Corexit 9527, and Corexit 9727A in the cleanup. We ask concerned citizens from all over to help the local communities along the Kalamazoo River by urging and pushing our FBI to investigate and to prevent immediate danger to our local community.

We make the following demands of Enbridge officials and the agencies:
1. Close the Kalamazoo River during the proposed dredging operation;
2. Require the workers on the dredging operation to wear the protective respiratory and toxic handling gear they are currently not provided; and
3. Acknowledge publicly that the 2010 spill extends into Allegan County Michigan, and alert residents there of all risks, as well as provide compensation for loss to private businesses in regards to river closing

The Charter Township of Comstock, Michigan held a public meeting at a restaurant on February 17, 2014 (a federal holiday), to consider Enbridge’s request for a zoning permit to build a new dredging site located where hundreds of thousands of gallons of spilled toxic “tar sands oil” sits merged with the floor bed of the Kalamazoo River. At the meeting, the Township heard an EPA spokesman say that the EPA has concluded from “thousands” of water sample tests that the operation would be safe. The same individual said that Enbridge was showing responsible effort in cleaning the river. This is in direct contrast with the public finding by the EPA that Enbridge has failed to meet deadlines for progress. At the meeting, it was determined that Enbridge now has approval for a toxic mining operation that will be built a mere few hundred feet from over 1,000 people’s residences and also a public park where the baseball summer leagues commence. This comes following the recent claims from the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) that has said the Kalamazoo River tar sands oil spill would not have “long term health effects” in a report issued on September 30, 2013. These findings and the continuation of dangerous operation by Enbridge with clear lack of oversight is an example of why three MI CATS, recently found guilty for their July protest aimed to stop the expansion of a historically polluting Enbridge pipeline, took action. The Enbridge Lines 6B and Line 5 are both are doubling their capacity.

Hamlin, a 60-year-old who on January 27th became a great-grandmother, twenty-two-year-old Carter lives three miles from a tar sands refinery which she says makes it hurt for her to breathe when she goes outside. Leggio, a single mother of two just became a grandmother on February 6. During the trial, the women were not able to argue that their actions were an “environmental necessity,” even though all three having been personally affected by the environmental and health effects of the industry. On January 31, they were found guilty of trespassing and a felony resisting and obstructing a police officer and immediately incarcerated, even though most people in their situation — convicted of a non-violent crime, but not yet sentenced — are out on bail, unless they are deemed a flight risk. They await 2-3 year sentences for their protest on March 5.

At the same time these groups that are supposed to protect the people’s interests have blatantly supported the corporation responsible for “the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history” that spilled over a million gallons of tar sand oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010, a kind of oil that was not reported to local government by Enbridge until after the spill, just 1 of 22 immediate violations demonstrated by Enbridge. Though there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that not only Corexit but potentially thousands of other unknown chemicals are in the toxic oil accumulation that is still estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of gallons remaining in the river, merged with the riverbed of the Kalamazoo. Not even dredging workers will be given toxic handling gear.

Though we have taken these formations out with local media at Allegan County (almost 40 miles past where we have been told this oil did not reach). Our government, protection agencies, and Enbridge, have without any investigation or conversation dismissed these chemical formations that burn hands when touched as mineral, or “tufa rocks.” This is a life-threatening negligent act.

“TIC Compound and Chromatogram test were done on “formations” retrieved from the Kalamazoo River and then compared with acknowledged Corexit dispersants found in the Macondo 252 BP spill. The results were identical to Corexit 9527, Corexit 9727A, and Corexit 9500. Despite this testing from multiple universities, doctors, and specialists, this evidence has not been even considered, nore have any of these water columns or data been reviewed, said Robert Namen, a chemist at Analytical Chemical Testing in Mobile, Alabama.

Earthjustice and Toxipedia Consulting Services conducted the first analysis of the 57 chemicals found in Corexit formulas 9500 and 9527 in the summer of 2011. Results showed the dispersant could contain cancer-causing agents, hazardous toxins and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The analysis found “5 chemicals are associated with cancer; 33 are associated with skin irritation from rashes to burns; 33 are linked to eye irritation; 11 are suspected of being potential respiratory toxins or irritants; 10 are suspected kidney toxins; 8 are suspected or known to be toxic to aquatic organisms; and 5 are suspected to have a moderate acute toxicity to fish”.

Following the reconsideration hearing at the Battle Creek Justice Center at 8:30AM on Monday, February 24, for the case involving Chris Wahmhoff who skateboarded into a pipeline on his 35th birthday, we will be answering questions and beginning a campaign to get our goals met. Chris will be releasing a personal statement, and we will have contact info and social media to provide a way for people around the country to help us in this fight for the impacted community of the Kalamazoo River spill.

The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) seeks to unite the people of the Great Lakes region towards a common goal of stopping all transportation and refining of tar sands oil in the state and advocating against the production/transportation of tar sands everywhere.

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