Michigan pipeline whistleblower John Bolenbaugh visits Mayflower | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Michigan pipeline whistleblower John Bolenbaugh visits Mayflower

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 1:15 PM

John Bolenbaugh Mayflower oil spill image

Citizen journalist John Bolenbaugh, the Michigan oil-spill-clean-up-worker-turned-whistleblower-turned tar-sands gadfly, spent the last week in Mayflower, chatting with residents, documenting what he saw on video, and attempting to see the ongoing spill clean-up himself.

Bolenbaugh worked on cleanup following a July 2010 rupture of an Enbridge pipeline near Marshall, Michigan that sent over a million gallons of heavy tar sands oil flowing into the Kalamazoo River. He was fired in October 2010 by Enbridge subcontractor SET Environmental after, he says, he refused to hide and cover up evidence of oil contamination. He later filed a whistleblower lawsuit over his firing, and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in April 2012. Since then, Bolenbaugh has become an activist against tar sands oil, visiting spill sites and documenting what he sees while doing follow-up reports on the Kalamazoo River clean up. Bolenbaugh said he has spent over $35,000 of his own money traveling and documenting pipeline spills.

"This is my calling," he said. "This is what I feel my purpose in life is now: to travel around and give speeches and document tar sands spills. I've seen the devastation first hand of what tar sands oil can do to a community."

During his time in Arkansas, Bolenbaugh said he was followed several times by local police, something he managed to capture on video on at least one occasion, confronting an officer in a Faulkner Country Sheriff's Department patrol car who tailed him into a parking lot. As seen in the video, the officer in the car refused to roll down his window or talk to Bolenbaugh when Bolenbaugh confronted him to ask why he was being followed.

Bolenbaugh, who said he has several relatives currently working on pipeline projects, said that he isn't an anti-oil.

"I'm not against oil. People need to understand that. I'm a Union member, that works on oil pipelines. I'm not against oil, and I'm not against working on an oil pipeline job. I'm against tar sands."

Bolenbaugh said Mayflower residents he spoke with are upset, and don't believe that ExxonMobil has been telling them the truth about the spill cleanup or the potential health effects.

"The residents are pissed," he said. "Exxon, of course, is doing their little PR campaign that everything is fine. One lady was really mad because all the kids were sick and puking at school, and they didn't evacuate the school." Bolenbaugh said he has been diagnosed with migraines, dizziness, headaches, blood in his urine and kidney dysfunction, all of which he attributes to his time as a tar sands oil cleanup worker. He added that residents of the area should consider seeking legal representation, and should avoid signing any settlements with ExxonMobil, even if they're feeling fine now.

"People have to realize that these chemicals sometimes take up to a year before you'll even see signs that you are getting sick," he said. "What Exxon and Enbridge and all these companies do, they'll have people sign off, they'll give them two or $3,000 dollars or less, and then they say: 'sign this document that clears us from all future lawsuits. Basically you have settled with us.' The issue with that is, people will have major medical bills in the future, or maybe the kids who breathe these chemicals in, maybe ten years in the future, they get cancer."

To see more video shot by Bolenbaugh during his time in Mayflower, visit his Youtube page or his HELPPA.org Facebook page.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by David Koon

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation