Ten Oil Spills in Two Weeks


Last week I published a story titled “Five Oil Spills in One Week: ‘Accidents’ or Business as Usual”. Within an hour of publication came the news of a sixth spill from a CP derailment in nothern Ontario. As the story made the rounds on social media in the ensuing days, readers provided updates as new spills continued to unfold. One week later, the tally stands at 10.

News of the latest – a biodiesel spill from Suncor’s plant in Port Moody, BC – came in this morning. Said Ben West of ForestEthics Advocacy upon learning of the spill, “At the time we were working on some campaign materials reminding candidates for the upcoming BC provincial election that they should be paying close attention to the nine oil industry spills, leaks, derailments and disasters that have taken place in North America in the last two weeks. And then this happened right here in BC — amazing.”

City officials have confirmed the leak of approximately 220 barrels of biodiesel from a storage tank at the facility.

Other spills not covered last week’s article include:

I want to be clear that these spills involve a range of fossil fuels – from diluted bitumen to hydraulic fluid to Tar Sands waste ponds and petrochemical products. It’s not just the range of materials and situations in which these malfunctions have occurred, but the broad geographic distribution of these spills that give one pause. We’ve now seen spills in BC, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Newfoundland, Minnesota, Michigan, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

No matter their size or nature, none of these are healthy for the airsheds and watercourses into which they spill, nor the people and animals subjected to their toxic effects. They all serve as a reminder of the systemic danger of an economic system dependent on fossil fuels – particularly in the era of “extreme energy”, where we’ve already got to the good, cheap, easy stuff and what remains is, to quote Barack Obama, “dirty, dwindling and dangerous.”

“The oil industry, it seems, has been in total disarray over the last couple of weeks,” remarks Ben West, on the eve of a BC election in which energy issues should figure prominently.

“This election is a key moment for political leaders to step forward to defend our coast and our local communities. We hope these incidents are a wake up call for all BC politicians.”


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

2 thoughts on “Ten Oil Spills in Two Weeks

  1. Monday, 15 April 2013 02:15 posted by Robert M Stahl


    Here is something that is not a trick, but with so many of these types of tricks, the worst being to awful too mention, do you think that it might be good to develop standards of refereeing, in this case The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics?

    Look it up, then test it. There have been many recent recipients of Nobel prizes in physics WHERE the answer is provided in this free textbook online and comprehensive.


    Sunday, 14 April 2013 10:30 posted by Juan Casador

    If you care to check work by a Cdn firm SL Ross, you will find that the vast majority of oil entering the waters of the world is from municipal and industrial runoff (far worse than oil tankers, offshore oil and gas, and pipelines). But OK, let’s shut down all our Cdn pipelines and tankers – is this the Ben West solution? No liquid fuels to Vancouver island or Haida Gwai, no natural gas to BC cities or Vancouver Island or eastern Canada, the 70% of crude and petroleum products imported into BC by Kinder Morgan’s pipeline gone – forget home heating, trucks, cars trains, airplanes. Get your cave fitted out.

    Thursday, 11 April 2013 23:41 posted by Damien Gillis

    Terrific infographic from tcktcktck: http://tcktcktck.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/An-Oily-Dirty-Month-medresolution.jpg

    Thursday, 11 April 2013 15:57 posted by Damien Gillis

    Hi Lee, I covered Arkansas in last week’s piece, linked to above:


    Also mentioned in the summary of all the different regions affected by spills. But the Parachute, Colorado spill is news to me. Thanks for sharing. So sorry to hear about this travesty – which clearly threatens drinking water and agricultural water in Colorado, Arizona and California.

    Thursday, 11 April 2013 15:23 posted by Lee Buchsbaum

    Hey, what about in Arkansas (dil bit) and in Parachute, Colorado. We’ve got benzene only 10 feet from poisoning the entire Colorado River! Nothing to worry about there….

    Thursday, 11 April 2013 14:45 posted by Sharon Belvin

    Didn’t see Montana Blackfoot Spill on your list…..

    Thursday, 11 April 2013 13:07 posted by madlove

    ‘Bama widened the Gulf with ‘Drill baby, drill’
    before BP had that massive spill.
    Then he promised a ‘nuclear renaissance’
    but a tsunami hit before it had a chance.
    Then he thought everything would be fine
    if he just approved that Keystone Pipeline….

    Thursday, 11 April 2013 12:52 posted by Damien Gillis

    UPDATE: Spill #11 from an overturned tanker truck in Saskatchewan last night: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/oil-spills-from-overturned-tanker-on-icy-saskatchewan-highway-1.1233464

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