The Kalamazoo River oil spill occurred in July 23, 2010 but was not detected by the press or reported by Enbridge until July 26th. The pipeline operated by Enbridge (Line6B) burst and flowed into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. A six-foot break in the pipeline resulted in the largest inland oil spill, which cost the most amount of money in U.S. history at an estimated 1,200,000,000 to clean up. The pipeline carries tar sands from Canada’s Athabasca oil sands to the United States. Following the spill, the volatile hydrocarbon diluents evaporated, leaving the heavier bitumen to sink into the riverbed. Thirty-five miles of the Kalamazoo River were closed for clean-up until June 2012.
Michigan native John Bolenbaugh, was a union worker, appointed by Enbridge as a Yard Boss. John was initially part of the clean up crew, but he quickly learned it was about to be the biggest oil cover-up in history. Over the next several weeks John could no longer bare witness to the devastation that was plaguing his very own community. John took his concerns to his Enbridge supervisor, who ignored his plea to clean the spill properly. The following day he was let go.
Immediately following his termination, John set out to make it right, beyond others who just did what they were told for their pay. John’s closest family and friends were instantly effected from the spill, most living within walking distance of the river. Having the knowledge from being on the inside, John took his fight straight to the problem; the spill site. Everyone must take into account the Gulf of Mexico, the explosion and subsequent fire resulted in the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, and the deaths of 11 workers; 17 others were injured. The same blowout that caused the explosion also caused a massive offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This was considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the world, and the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. This is extremely important considering that of the 14 supposed whistle-blowers, 10 ended up dead, and 3 have since been imprisoned.
John coined the term, ‘exposing the truth with video proof’. The idea alone of capturing everything, and never cutting the footage, has literally saved his life time and time again. The steps John took by uncovering the hidden oil, forced Enbridge to re-clean several dozen areas that were signed off by them, the EPA and DEQ as 100% clean. John’s exposure forced the EPA to demand that Enbridge re-clean the covered up areas and re-dredge the river at an estimated cost of $600,000,000. In 2011, he was asked to speak outside of the White House by 350.org founder Bill McKibben. John has traveled around the country several times to give speeches and to document the Kalamazoo, Yellowstone, Mayflower and the Gull oil spills.
In November 2012 John met the love of his life, Courtney. A prenatal nurse, their love of helping others turned into the base foundation for their entire relationship. A short two years later they would welcome their first child Zayna, the following year Zara was brought into their growing family. Thou his life took a turn John never expected he continued to fight for the environment against big oil and their lies. The years may have passed quickly in his personal life however in the fight against the giant corporations John was receiving death threats. He has been attacked while trying to capture footage of the cover-ups. John was often heard saying he knew that the company’s would come after him and he just wanted to die a hero, now he wants to live and be the hero and example for his children.
The adventure’s of big oil whistle-blower John Bolenbaugh are being complied into several documentaries that will change the way America sees pipelines and their dependency on foreign oil supplies. His hope is that once released other whistle-blowers will have the strength to come forward without fear of retaliation or death.