“Keystone Kops” fiasco is the expression used by Debbie Hersman, Chairperson of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), to describe “Enbridge’s poor handling” of their huge oil spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River on July 10, 2010.

Indeed, the whole matter would have been a comedy of errors had the spill been something innocuous. It wasn’t. It was more than 3 million litres of “dilbit”, a thick goo from Alberta’s tar sands diluted with solvent to make it fluid enough to move through pipelines.

Enbridge handled the spill like true comedians, a routine they had apparently been perfecting since 2004. In that year, they detected corrosion in the pipe that eventually burst but “took advantage” of lax regulations and failed to do repairs. In 2005, they identified 1.3 metres of cracking in the same area but again neglected repairs — when profit is more important than safety, why repair what isn’t yet broken?

Read the rest