Keystone XL: Will viral video of oil spill in Arkansas derail pipeline? -by Mitch Potter (Toronto Star – April 2, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Ugly video of an Arkansas oil spill has Americans up in arms.

WASHINGTON—Pictures don’t lie. And as much as some would like to write off the oil-drenched images flying across Facebook and Twitter Monday as an April Fool’s joke gone rogue, they are real.

That actually is a river of Alberta crude gushing through an Arkansas suburb. And gushing onward to YouTube, virally, throughout Easter weekend. Like Jed Clampett’s worst nightmare, Canada’s diluted oilsands bitumen has never looked so ugly, coursing for the first time across the driveways of everyday Americans.

The black ooze comes as yet another black eye to Canada, just as the Obama White House readies to make a final call on Keystone XL. America’s already tortured pipeline politics just got stickier.

But looks can be deceiving. And thus far, all indications suggest this latest rupture in Mayflower, Ark., though classified as “major” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, may wreak about a third or less of the damage of the damage done during the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill, which saw more than a million gallons of Alberta crude pour into a Michigan waterway.

All oil spills are bad. Some are worse than others. Measuring any new spill against the worst ever is in no way meant to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. But for the sake of context, here are some essential differences between the Kalamazoo leak three summers ago versus Mayflower today:
Call it the Keystone Kops factor. U.S. investigators ultimately fingered Enbridge Inc. for rank incompetence in 2010, when Alberta crude gushed for a stunning 17 hours before the flow was cut by the pipeline’s overseers in Edmonton.

Early reports out of Mayflower, Ark., suggest Friday afternoon’s leak was staunched within two hours. ExxonMobil Pipeline officials initially estimated the spill at “a few thousand barrels” and then mobilized cleanup crews capable of mopping 10,000 barrels. By midday Monday, company spokesman Alan Jeffers told the spill was expected to be “much less.”

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