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Tar sands in old pipelines- excellent article by Roger Drouin

An excellent and timely article on the dangers of pumping diluted bituman from the tar sands through old pipelines:

The article begins: 

“On its website, TransCanada touts a near-spotless spill record from 2002 to 2011 for its oil pipelines.

However, the company wasn’t always perfect. One of its natural gas pipes ruptured 18 years ago near Rapid City, Manitoba. While that rupture and an ensuing blaze did not garner much media attention at the time, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which examined the pipeline, reported that “external stress corrosion cracking” caused the break. 

TransCanada now wants to convert the same pipeline to carry 1.1 million barrels a day of viscous, highly corrosive tar-sands crude at high pressure as part of its Energy East Pipeline across six Canadian provinces…. 

On the effects of dilbit on old pipelines the article reports:

“The heavier, high-sulfur dilbit from Canada could both create bigger pressure swings and cause microscopic cracks to spread in old pipes.

“In general it’s more difficult for an older pipe to transport tar-sands dilbit,” Kuprewicz said.”

On the impacts that dilbit causes when pipelines carrying it rupture:

“Spills in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Mayflower, Arkansas, demonstrate that tar sands crude is more damaging and difficult to clean up, particularly if it contaminates water bodies,” said Anthony Swift, an attorney with NRDC, in his testimony before a House subcommittee in Washington on Sept. 19, 2013. While not the largest pipeline spill in US history, the Enbridge Kalamazoo tar-sands spill has become the most expensive involving a pipeline – with cleanup costs rising above $1 billion. “The extent of damage done to the region’s watershed may not be known for years to come,” Swift said in his testimony. ” 

The article reports on the impetus behind pipeline conversion:

“Canada is producing more and more tar sands bitumen, but most of the fossil fuel remains landlocked in Canada. “At the end of this decade, there will be 5 million barrels a day of Canadian oil production,” said Tom Kloza, an oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service. “That’s mostly Alberta tar sands.””

The article concludes: 

“If completed, TransCanada’s Energy East project would pump dilbit from Alberta to refineries in Eastern Canada. The dilbit would travel along 870 miles of new pipeline that connects to 1,864 miles of the older pipe.

Additionally, the Energy East project is expected to transport dilbit for export to refineries outside of Canada. Every community it passes through will be forced to accept this added risk  for no better reason than to increase the profits of a handful of oil and pipeline corporations.