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.”