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Scott Sines, ©Green Rocket News
Craig Ritter marches through chest high reeds toward ground zero of the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. Suddenly he sinks calf-deep in an oily bog. A petroleum odor releases immediately. “This all used to be a pond,” he says, as he uses a rake and potato fork to extricate himself.

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Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
The problems in Line 6B were known for years before the spill.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board confirms that Enbridge knew, in 2005, of the cracks in Line 6B that eventually split open. A 2005 Enbridge engineering assessment reported, “… six crack-like defects ranging in length from 9.3 to 51.6 inches were left in the pipeline, unrepaired, until the July 2010 rupture.”

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Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
Seventeen hours after multiple alarms in the Enbridge control room, a local utility worker called to tell them they had a problem.
Enbridge engaged.
Between 2,000 and 2,500 local and other cleanup workers flooded the Marshall, Battle Creek area. Cleanup crews were working 24/7, but they didn’t know what they were dealing with. Enbridge was elusive in disclosing that it was a dilbit spill.

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Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
Carol and Tom Brimhall have a long history with Enbridge. None of it good.

“Hate is a powerful four letter word. Hate is not a word I use frequently. Careful consideration to the hurtful consequences should be taken into account before using the word hate. I hated Enbridge,” Carol Brimhall says of the events surrounding her mother’s death and her family’s history with Enbridge.

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Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
Beth and Bob Duman found out about Line 6B as they were signing the papers to close on their dream house.

It had passive solar heat, wood heat, mature trees, a way station for Monarch butterflies, flower gardens and plenty of room for Beth to run her dog training business. It was the home they wanted and the pipeline didn’t seem to be an issue.

About 3 years ago, Beth noticed a man at the end of the driveway talking to her husband. It was a Right of Way agent. “Within five minutes he was threatening us with condemnation,” Beth recalls.

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Scott Sines, ©The Green Rocket News
Craig Ritter is thigh deep in the Kalamazoo on a cold October day. Waders and rubber gloves protect him as he trolls the river bottom for tar balls. In minutes he has several.

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Scott Sines, ©Green Rocket News
The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration is in charge of over 2.3 million miles of oil and gas transmission lines across the country. The Michigan Public Service Commission has responsibility for approving routing and siting in-state.

At the time of the Marshall spill, PHMSA had 110 inspectors on staff. It was funded for 137. The MPSC has no responsibility for pipeline inspections.

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future-site-of-big-river-steelBig news this week for the Arkansas Delta town of Osceola. The Big River Steel plant has cleared the last permitting hurdle before construction starts this summer. It’s been and up and down ride for the mini-mill which will float recycled metals down the river and turn it into new steel products. Next step: secure the financing.
Here’s some background

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Here is a quick update on Osceola, AR. I’ve written about it in the past (Osceola waits for better times). Now it looks like one of the triggers that could breathe life into the small Delta city has taken a baby step forward.

This week the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission lifted a stay on the building permit for the $1.1 billion Big River Steel plant clearing the way for some preliminary work to begin. Continuing delays were making investors uneasy about complying with the provisions needed to acquire $125 million in funding from the state legislature. The project still needs final agency approval.

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farmers
IT TAKES NO TILLAGE
Conventional farmers drop their plows in favor of conservation

By Nathanael Johnson
The Michael and Adam Crowell duo works this way: Michael handles the crops, and Adam handles the dairy cows; Michael is the colorful wisecracker, and Adam is the straight man; Michael casts about for a word when his tongue outpaces his memory, and Adam fills it in; Michael is the father, and Adam is the son.