The province of Alberta and the oil industry are fighting to expand the tarsands and build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and the Northern Gateway pipeline.
The Canadian and Alberta government’s are working hard to defend the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline which would ferry tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.
Another controversial project, the Northern Gateway pipeline, would ferry oil from Alberta to the West Coast of British Columbia.
Government largely ignores the problem of pipeline ruptures which is endemic to the oil industry. Without the Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway there are already over 399,000 kilometres of pipelines under the authority of the Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board.
Despite the Alberta government‘s repeated assurances that oil spills are rare, they are in fact an unavoidable corollary of oil pipelines.
The entire oil pipeline network in Alberta has spilled approximately 28,000 barrels (~4,452 cubic metres) equivalent volumes of liquid hydrocarbons every year since 2005.
Flooding has caused pipes to shift spilling 750 barrels of synthetic oil from a pipeline in northern Alberta.
There have been many other oil spill in Alberta in recent years. As reviewed by Sean Kheraj’s review of pipeline spills in Alberta from 1970 to 2005 and Kheraj’s extensive summary of more recent oil spills from Alberta’s pipelines between 2006 and 2012.
On June 7, 2012, the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group, a not-for-profit society, notified Plains Midstream Canada of a major oil pipeline failure near Sundre, Alberta that spilled an early estimate of between 1,000 and 3,000 barrels of light sour crude oil (~159-477 cubic metres) into Jackson Creek, a tributary of the Red Deer River. The river is one of the province’s most important waterways, providing drinking water for thousands of Albertans.
In late May 2012 an estimated 22,000 barrels of oil and water (~3,497 cubic metres) spilled across 4.3 hectares of muskeg in the northwest part of the province near Rainbow Lake. According to the Globe and Mail, this rupture, which occurred along a pipeline operated by Pace Oil & Gas, Ltd., “ranks among the largest in North America in recent years,” and certainly in the province of Alberta. A couple of weeks after the accident, the company downgraded the estimate to 5,000 barrels of sweet crude oil with no water (~795 cubic metres).
In 2011, 28,000 barrels (~4,452 cubic metres) of oil spilled on the Rainbow pipeline operated by Plains Midstream Canada near Little Buffalo, Alberta. The 2011 Plains Midstream oil pipeline rupture was one of the largest single spill events in recent memory,
On October 10, 2006, the Rainbow Pipe Line Company became aware of a crude oil spill on its pipeline 20 kilometres southeast of Slave Lake. Roughly 7,924 barrels of oil (~1,260 cubic metres) poured into a series of ponds near the northern Alberta town, despoiling wildlife habitat on what one local news outlet ironically referred to as “Black Tuesday.”
In mid-June 2008, Pembina Pipeline Corporation accidentally leaked 177 barrels of oil (28.1 cubic metres) into the Red Deer River, eventually resulting in a large oil slick on the surface of Glennifer Lake. Resorts on the Lake had to turn off their drinking water intakes to avoid human consumption of the contaminated water.
From 2006-2010, Alberta’s pipeline network leaked roughly 174,213 barrels of oil (~27,700 cubic metres). In 2010 alone, more than 21,000 barrels (~3,400 cubic metres) were spilled across the network.
Click here to see Kheraj’s map of pipeline spills in Alberta from 2006 to 2012.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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