The problem with this heavy crude (or diluted bitumen) is that it's so viscous that they have to add toxic chemicals to get it to flow through the pipes. Besides the fact that the tar sands will basically undo any changes Canadians do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this diluted bitumen is especially gross when it leaks since the oil sinks in the water and the chemicals (known carcinogens) evaporate in the air and can be smelled from miles away. How do we know this will happen? It's already happened with a massive spill in Michigan and more recently, Arkansas, where the pipeline was very similar to the existing line from Montreal to Maine.
On our way back from Portland to Montreal, we decided to follow the pipeline route (which you can see here). And what we found shocked me.
But first, we stopped at the Cape Elizabeth lighthouse, just a few miles outside Portland.
I couldn't believe that seemingly normal looking houses were yards away from giant oil tanks.
I think I went white when I saw a kids' playground right on the other side of the fence.
How could South Portland stand for this? It might help that Portland Montreal Pipeline Limited bought the town a library.
The road crossed into New Hampshire, where we drove past the Shelburne Pumping Station, just yards away from the Androscoggin River. It's an important river for fishing and tourism in the area that provides drinking water to people, and the pipeline crosses under the water twice.
Not far past the pumping station, we passed areas in Vermont that have previously had oil spills due to corrosion or natural forces. Close to the spillage areas, the pipeline crosses the Connecticut River, the largest and longest river in New England.
One of our last stops was the Highwater Pumping Station right on the border of Quebec and Vermont. It's on the Quebec side, so it's strange that some of the signs are only in English. The BB gun holes in the nearby signs were a little disconcerting too.
My trip ended at the cottage, where my dad was busy making maple syrup. The next morning, I headed down to the river, where we've seen otters, mink, and beavers.