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Group warns against shipping oil on Great Lakes

SUPERIOR, Wis. -- The Alliance for the Great Lakes released a report Wednesday warning against increased shipment of petroleum products on the lakes, most notably a plan to ship oil by tanker out of Superior.

The environmental group’s report said neither U.S. nor Canadian shipping fleets or ports are designed for large-scale transport of crude oil, and that neither government’s regulatory system is prepared to deal with moving oil across the big lakes.

It highlighted the difference between western Canadian “tar sands” oil, which probably would be one type of oil shipped out of Superior, noting it is “dirtier and heavier" than normal crude oil and may not be controlled by traditional oil-spill methods.

Supporters of the proposed Superior oil terminal project note that oil and gas have been shipped for more than a century on the big lakes without catastrophic problems.

Indiana-based Calumet Special Products LP, which owns Wisconsin’s only oil refinery in Superior, announced plans in January for a possible $30 million terminal in Superior, where western oil from pipelines would be transferred onto Great Lakes tankers and barges to move east.

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