One year ago today, TransCanada’s natural gas pipeline near Boyle, Alberta had a catastrophic rupture- one of five for the company in the past fourteen months- giving them the worst pipeline safety record in North America. One of the five ruptures (pictured above) happened in Otterburne, Manitoba on the pipeline system that TransCanada wants to convert for their proposed Energy East oil pipeline.
Thankfully nobody was injured in the five gas pipeline ruptures and explosions. The environmental damages, while notable, pale in comparison to what might happen if Energy East ruptures. Over a million litres of oil could spill in the 10 minutes that the company says it will take to turn off the pumps and shut the valves. Depending on where the rupture occurs, millions of litres more could leak as the remaining oil in the pipeline “drains down” to the rupture point. TransCanada will save at least $4 billion dollars by using their old gas pipeline instead of building a new one.
A new alert issued by the U.S. federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA states that reversing oil and gas pipelines or changing the product they are carrying can have a “significant impact” on a pipeline`s safety and integrity.