The Dilbit Disaster

Inside The Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of

Inside Climate News won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for this four-part narrative series and six-part follow-up about an oil spill most Americans have never heard of. More than 1 million gallons of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010, triggering the most expensive cleanup in U.S. history, at a cost of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. After two years, the cleanup still wasn’t finished.

Why not? Because the underground pipeline that ruptured was carrying diluted bitumen, or dilbit, the dirtiest, stickiest oil used today. It’s the same kind of oil from Alberta, Canada, that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, if it were ever built, would carry across America’s largest drinking water aquifer.