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Letter: Enbridge should seek to do no harm

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A basic principle of medicine is “First, do no harm.” When a medical practitioner sees a patient with a problem the practitioner must decide which treatment, if several are available, will help the problem without causing harm if possible. This principle should also apply to treating national problems as recently noted by representatives of Enbridge – that of how to best transport oil to places where it and its refined products can be sold.

Since Minnesota lies between sources of oil (North Dakota) and terminals (Wisconsin and Illinois) we apparently must do our best to help the oil and pipeline companies get their products to market. However, the principle of first doing no harm, I believe, should be followed. The proposed Sandpiper line is a miserable option – pollution of our waters is too risky. If a pipeline is needed it should be built in a place where, when it leaks (and leak it will), those leaks can be readily managed without fouling pristine lakes, rivers and sensitive aquifers. No amount of money promised to us from Enbridge will be worth it if our waters and economy are ruined.

As for the real time monitoring for leaks, the Enbridge representatives say their pipeline technicians can stop the flow of oil immediately if a drop in pressure is sensed. Can you imagine what would happen to a technician if he or she stopped the flow of oil for every hint of a probable leak? I suspect they would be “re-educated” or fired. I am skeptical of the quality of their monitoring especially after the disastrous 17-hour leak that occurred near Kalamazoo, Mich., just 4 years ago. Truly reliable monitoring would have to be done by an independent agency.

Enbridge should seek first to do no harm and then figure out how to maximize profits.

Maurice Spangler, MD

Park Rapids

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