Call out CEOs of Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper
On a rare sunny 80-degree Seattle day, I stood on the steps of City Hall helping my friend Tiffany into a five-foot tall salmon costume. We were there, along with 50 other concerned Seattleites, to mark the second anniversary of the devastating Kalamazoo tar sands spill, the costliest onshore pipeline disaster in US history. In 2010 when Enbridge’s Line 6B ruptured near Deer Creek Michigan, the company promised a speedy cleanup and quick reopening of the river—neither happened.
Residents living around the spill were sickened as some chemicals quickly evaporated and entered the air. The rest of the mixture sank to the bottom of the river, where some of it remains to this day. The heavy, especially toxic nature of tar sands chemicals present unique challenges. Some parts of the Kalamazoo River remain closed two years later.
Seattleites came out for the anniversary of the Kalamazoo spill because we see that disaster as a warning for what could happen in the ecologically very rich—and very vulnerable—Puget Sound and Salish Sea. The same chemicals that flowed through Enbridge’s pipeline in Kalamazoo are here in Washington State. They’re used in refineries. They’re transported via Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline, and on trains. Nearly 90 tankers per year carry tar sands in waters connected to Puget Sound. Plans to expand Kinder Morgan’s pipeline could triple the amount of tar sands coming through our state and the number of tankers on our Sound.
What can the city of Seattle do about it? Our rally commemorated Kalamazoo, but we also supported current efforts by the Seattle City Council. They’re working with concerned citizens to craft a resolution that would use the city’s buying power to oppose more tar sands in Puget Sound.
After hearing from speakers like KC Golden, a 350.org board member, and Fred Felleman, a marine expert with Friends of the Earth, we set up a “Tar Sands Spill” on the steps of City Hall, complete with tar sands covered protestors, Orca whales, and a group of salmon wielding signs that read: “Wild Salmon Against Tar Sands!”
To me the most inspiring thing was how diverse our group was. It included students, retirees, university professors and many ordinary working people who took a long lunch so they could attend. Several people told me that this was the first time they’d ever attended a protest, but they felt so moved by the threat of the tar sands, they had to come out.
Communities across the Northwest are standing up and saying NO to more tar sands in the Northwest, which would endanger our wild places and waterways. 18 major US companies, 131 first nations, 17 municipalities in British Columbia, and the City of Bellingham, Washington have already publicly expressed concern about the social and environmental impacts of tar sands expansion. Will Seattle be next?
Read more about the event in the press release >>