Tar Sands Pipeline-Enbridge in Missouri

Update: MCE Sues Corps of Engineers for Tar Sands Pipeline Information. See news

208 Miles of Tar Sands Pipelines To Cross Missouri EnbridgePipeline

While national organizations focus on resisting the construction of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a Canadian company plans to start construction as soon as August 2013 on a section of a tar sands pipeline in Missouri.

Known as the Flanagan South pipeline, the 36-inch pipe would stretch approximately 589 miles through four states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. About 208 miles of the pipeline is proposed to cross 11 counties in Missouri: Lewis, Marion, Shelby, Macon, Randolph, Chariton, Saline, Lafayette, Johnson, Cass and Bates.


On Wednesday 7/17, Enbridge, a Canadian company, hosted a pipeline open house for community members in Marshall, Missouri. In some communities along the route, landowners are asking questions.


See the news:

Quincy Herald-Whig

Marshall News-Democrat

Columbia Daily Tribune


A much smaller pipeline, the Spearhead pipeline, already runs the course. The new pipeline has more than three times the capacity and will be carrying a substance known as “dilbit” or diluted bitumen – or simply, “Tar Sands” which refers to its source from the tar sands (a mixture of sand, clay and a viscous low-grade petroleum called bitumen) extracted from mostly open pits in Alberta, Canada. (See this National Geographic story for a good primer on tar sands). 

The Marshall News-Democrat reports an Enbridge public affairs executive saying: "That one (Spearhead pipeline) has about 190,000 barrels per day capacity. The new Flanagan South pipeline will run roughly parallel to this line and it will have about a 600,000 barrel capacity. Really it's about increasing the capacity in this corridor to move oil where it needs to go."

Where it needs to go is the Gulf of Mexico for export to Asia with a stop along the way at refineries in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The company says it is safe. However, in the Show Me State, actions speak louder than words.

Trouble In Michigan

Local landowners would feel better if Enbridge had not experienced a dilbit pipeline spill in 2010 near the town of Marshall, Michigan which contaminated 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River with more than 1 million gallons of the sticky, thick, tarry stuff. Three years later, problems in the River persist. Part of the problem is that Dilbit does not behave like oil. It sinks, which makes traditional oil spill containment tools less effective.

Enbridge Protester Emerges from Pipeline, June 24, 2013

Links to Michigan landowners blog

Three years after Enbridge Spill, Slow Recovery Haunts Kalamazoo River

Arkansas Exxon Dilbit Spill

A recent Exxon oil spill in Arkansas reveals the perils of the diluted bitumen pipelines. On March 31st, 2013, 500,000 gallons of dilbit were spilled into the town of Mayflower, Arkansas. The dilbit emitted hydrogen sulfide, benzene and toluene resulting in citizens sick with gastrointestinal problems, headaches, respiratory problems, skin irritation including chemical burns, and extreme fatigue. The dilbit burst from an aging pipline (like the aging Speahead, noted above) and filled their neighborhood with toxic fumes and black tarry sludge. Aging pipelines may be more vulnerable to the higher pressures required to transport the thick, heavy dilbit. See these:


National Geographic

NBC on Lawsuits

See the lawsuit filed in Arkansas

ScientficAmerican reports, "Yet, even brand-new pipelines can spring a leak: TransCanada's Keystone I Pipeline, which began carrying dilbit from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest in 2010, has already suffered 14 different leaks (pdf)."

In MissouriEventPIpelineEnbridge-ArchieWeb

While politicians have rallied around the company’s promised jobs and Enbridge doles out key chains and tote bags at its open houses, residents in western Missouri have raised concerns for the safety of the public water supply in the rural communities of Adrian and Archie. Water for those communities is pumped from the South Grand River less than a mile from the proposed pipeline. Learn more about their efforts at www.dilbit.org or find them on Facebook and help out.



Nationwide 12, Water Risks, & Government

Enbridge is seeking approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under a regulatory shortcut known as a Nationwide Permit. Enbridge is seeking approval for the project under Nationwide Permit 12 which applies to “utility lines.”

Nationwide permits are not site-specific in the destruction and pollution they authorize. They typically reference generalized guidelines, in the same fashion as the rules in your teenager’s driver’s handbook. The guidelines amount to “don’t dump in streams but if you must try to do something nice elsewhere to make up for it.” Because it is a nationwide permit, individual states have few opportunities to scrutinize the project outside of certifying the project. Members of the public have even fewer.

Governor Jay Nixon has enthusiastically expressed his support for the Enbridge pipeline, despite the new risks, weaknesses in oversight, scrutiny, and the company’s less than stellar record. 

The Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources certification letter on the project says “a total of 8 streams and 7 wetlands will be crossed using a horizontal directional drilling process or another subsurface method and 568 streams and 239 wetlands will be crossed through open cutting.”

According to the DNR, the pipeline will have an average berth of 50 feet, and 60 feet during construction. All wooded wetlands en route will be entirely and permanently removed.

See the letter here for more details.

Missouri has noted that pre-certification is not available for eight stream crossings under Nationwide Permit 12. For these it must obtain a site specific permit to ensure that its project does not impact these waters. The eight (though the letter says nine) impaired water bodies are the North Fabius River, Grassy Creek, Troublesome Creek, Little Crooked Creek, Middle Fok Salt River, Palmer Creek, Honey Creek, and South Fork Blackwater River.

Take Action

You can speak up and speak out about the need for Missouri's regulators to take a close look at the Flanagan South pipeline, its risks to our communities, and the threats to our land and water.


10 Questions About the Proposed South Flanagan Pipeline:

 1.)        Is there a spill containment plan for the Pipeline?

 2.)        Can we obtain a copy of the spill containment plan (if it exists)?

 3.)        What is the construction schedule for the pipeline expansion through Missouri?

 4.)        Have draft land disturbance permits to the Missouri DNR already been submitted? If not, when does Enbridge expect to submit them?

 5.)        Can we get a detailed chemical breakdown of the constituent parts of the dilbit that will be traveling through the pipeline?

 6.)        What will be the operating pressure and temperature of the new pipeline?

 7.)        How will the Flanagan South pipeline be tested to ensure it withstands operating pressures?

 8.)        Once operational, how often will the pipeline be inspected, by whom and where?

 9.)        How will local emergency personnel and first responders be informed, trained and equipped to prepare and respond to a spill?

 10.)     What resources will be mobilized to protect local water supplies, land, and air quality in the event of a spill? Who pays for them?

Governor Jay Nixon


P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: (573) 751-3222

Missouri Clean Water Commission

c/o Water Protection Program
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


For more information about Tar Sands, see: Dilbit: More Than Crude for the Environment


A Final (not) Note

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