March 10, 2012
Community Members & Activists Confront Suncor Energy at Oil Leak Site
Protestors demand an end to pollution in Colorado, Canada
Commerce City, Colo – Members of the Stop Suncor and Tar Sands Coalition, including the American Indian Movement of Colorado (AIM), Deep Green Resistance Colorado (DGR), United Community Action Network (UCAN), Occupy Denver, Front Range Rising Tide, 350.org, Boulder Food Rescue, and concerned citizens rallied and occupied the site of Suncor Energy’s oil leak on the shore of Sand Creek. Acting as Private Attorneys General, under the authority of the Clean Water Act, water samples were taken to be tested for contaminants. The demonstration sought to bring public attention to the fact that Suncor Energy’s continued negligence and environmental degradation is killing Colorado communities, water and wildlife, and to force the industrial polluter to confront the effects of its actions.
“Suncor has so poisoned this land, that oil is not spilling into these waters, it is bubbling up through the toxified soil from numerous burst sub-surface pipelines,” Deanna Meyer of Deep Green Resistance Colorado said. “ Benzene levels in this water—water that fish, ducks, geese, beavers, trees, grasses and many other beings depend on—are 100 times the safety standard, and what’s happening here is nothing compared to the destruction of the tar sands.”
Suncor’s role in the tar sands is contributing to a devastated climate and world, and is harming indigenous communities in Canada as well as people living in local communities in Colorado. The development of the tar sands—a form of oil deposit—in Athabasca has led to the deforestation of tens of thousands of square miles of the Boreal forest and the destruction of First Nations cultures. Suncor Energy declares itself to be the first corporation to begin the extraction of this abnormally dirty form of oil, and continues to do so today. Currently, Suncor produces more than 90,000 barrels of oil a day, much of this from tar sands oil, at its refinery in Commerce City, Colorado.
“All the oil that’s being spilled here came from Athabasca, which is a First Nation community. My people up there are suffering because of the oil we’re refining here,” said Tessa McLean of American Indian Movement of Colorado to the group of more than 150 that occupied the spill site. “We don’t want that oil here!”
While the spill was first reported on November 27th of last year, it is believed to have begun nine months earlier, when an underground pipe failed a pressure test, in February of 2011. However, Suncor’s history of negligence and degradation goes far beyond 2011 (when 3 different leaks were reported). Underground “plumes” of leaked oil dot the refinery grounds, the wounds and scars left by the refinery’s operation. In addition, the refinery has been cited with nearly 100 distinct air-quality violations.
“Suncor’s activities are beyond toxic, they are incompatible with a living world and they must be stopped. A safe a just world has no place for oil leaks, toxic air, poisoned water, or the tar sands,” said the coalition.
On December 31st, the Stop Suncor and Tar Sands Coalition organized a march and rally to protest Suncor Energy on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. After having now come to the site of the leak and become more familiar with the severity of the damage being wrought by Suncor, the group reiterated the need to confront and stop ecocide, whether that of Colorado waters and wildlife, or the Boreal forest of Athabasca.
As Tessa McLean said, “only when the last tree has been cut, only when the last fish has been caught, only when the last river has dried up, will we realize we cannot eat money.”