Update on Imperial Oil

Railroaded Imperial Oil logo photo 2It’s been some time since Railroaded blogged about Imperial Oil, the company that has violated federal legislation, Imperial Oil environmental and community relations policies, and joint Railway Association of Canada/Federation of Canadian Municipalities guidelines by storing up to 225 petroleum rail cars right next to 2 homes and 2 wildlife conservation areas near Edmonton. Following are just a few stories about Imperial Oil’s corporate conduct and safety records in other parts of North America.

Imperial Oil is one of several Syncrude companies recently sued by the Alberta Government for allegedly failing to pay the province its share of revenues from the Syncrude Royalty Project (Edmonton Journal). This is particularly disturbing to many Albertans, considering how absurdly low the royalty payments already are to the province from tar sands operators in the Fort McMurray area. Many individuals and institutions have pressed the Alberta Government repeatedly to increase the royalty rates for these operators so that Albertans receive a more fair share of revenues from mineral resources that Albertans own. To then have companies like Imperial Oil refuse to pay the low royalty revenues that they are obligated to pay might be considered “salt in the wound” for many Albertans, especially when we see governments elsewhere (e.g., Newfoundland, Norway) negotiate much better petroleum revenue sharing agreements for their citizens.

Imperial Oil was also sued in April of this year by a Halifax couple for damages allegedly caused by a fuel tank leak (Chronicle Herald). The statement of claim alleged that an oil tank sold and installed by Imperial Oil was discovered to be leaking, caused by corrosion which in turn was caused by contaminated fuel oil. As a result of the leaking fuel oil, the plaintiffs have been required to incur a significant expense for the remediation of two properties. The plaintiffs alleged that Imperial Oil was negligent and in breach of its implied warranties in selling the tank and fuel oil.

The Asbury Park Press reports that a former Imperial Oil site in Marlboro, New Jersey has finally been cleaned up – it took $50 million and 25 years. Cleanup included removing 4,600 gallons of oil that pooled on the land, 30 million gallons of contaminated groundwater and 180,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. It was not Imperial Oil that payed for the cleanup – it was primarily federal taxpayers. The fact that companies like Imperial Oil, that make billions of dollars in profits, are not forced to pay for cleaning up their toxic sites has angered many Americans who are pressing Congress for the restoration of “polluter pays” mechanisms. (On December 30, 2010, Railroaded also reported on another major toxic Imperial Oil site, the Cam-Or waste oil refinery site in Westville, Indiana {see Post Tribune and Herald Argus}.)

Imperial Oil’s Sarnia refinery in Ontario has recently seen its share of fires and toxic petroleum and chemical leaks. One of the latest fires was reported May 30, 2012 by Reuters. On November 24, 2011, a diesel product leaked from the plant as a fine mist and drifted downwind (CBC). One worker was injured when hydrocarbons were released into the air and diesel fuel leaked onto the ground February 24, 2011 (The Observer and GasBuddy). There have been many more similar incidents at Imperial’s Sarnia refinery.

Further to earlier reports by Railroaded on Imperial Oil’s multiple attempts to ship megaloads of massive tar sands processing modules along US Route 12 through Idaho and Montana, local residents and tourism operators appear to have been successful in keeping these shipments from negatively impacting scenic byways in both states (Circle of Blue). Imperial Oil had pressed for the shorter and cheaper US 12 route but eventually was forced by court decisions to select another route less sensitive from environmental, tourism and safety perspectives.

Scan Railroaded’s “Latest News” for many more examples of Imperial Oil’s poor environmental, community relations and safety records.

~ by railroaded on June 8, 2012.

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