charges against activist who spent hours inside an oil pipeline dismissed, if only temporarily

by Tim Phillips

On June 24, Christopher Wahmhoff spent 10 hours of his 35th birthday inside a new oil pipeline in Michigan to protest Enbridge Inc., the company that built it. He was charged with trespassing and resisting police. Today his charges were dismissed, although the prosecutor claims the charges will be reissued.

Enbridge is responsible for the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history. The company’s Line 6B ruptured along a Michigan riverbank in July 2010, spilling more than a million gallons of toxic, tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek, a tributary. According to a post by Ben Jervey on DeSmogBlog,

It was the most expensive pipeline oil spill in the country’s history, the fallout from which still plagues the local communities, and government investigators have found that it was entirely preventable. … Last year, a joint report … spotlighted the specific threats of tar sands crude to pipelines. It warned that pumping DilBit at high volumes, common practice in the industry, could cause corrosion and cracking — exactly what was found to have caused the spill from Enbridge’s pipeline 6B.

Earlier in 2010, Enbridge’s Line 2 pipeline spilled more than 3,000 barrels of crude oil near Neche, North Dakota. In July 2012, Enbridge was forced to shut down Line 14 after more than 1,000 barrels of crude oil spilled onto a Wisconsin field. In November 2012, 900 barrels of crude oil leaked from an Enbridge pipeline near Chicago. And in April 2013, a couple months before Wahmhoff’s Fearless Summer action in June, Enbridge’s Line 2 pipeline, which has a history of spills, leaked roughly 600 gallons of crude oil at its pump station near Viking, Minnesota.