The headline reads ‘Oil Spill Worries Albertans’ and I should hope that it does. 3,000 barrels of leaked oil that may find its way into the drinking water of 100,000 people. Warnings not to touch, drink, swim or boat in affected waterways! Whats not to be worried about?
Actually there are a few things not to be worried about. The first is that this has happened in an easily accessible location which means easy accessibility for the response team(s). The second is that the response team is by all accounts world class so we do not have to worry about mistakes from on the job training of rookies. This means that the damage from this spill will be controlled and repaired as quickly and as well as possible. This does not mean no death or damage but it does mean it could have been a lot worse.
Here comes the ugly part of this blog, you have been given fair warning.
Enbridge wants to build, possibly with Chinese corporations and labour the twinned Northern Gateway Pipeline. This twinned pipeline will run from the Athabaskan Tar sands to Kitimat. It will be built through some of the most isolated terrain in the world. Isolated as in helicopter time to get to in. There will also be times, I believe in Canada they have a special term for this time, Fall, Winter and Spring when the pipelines will be buried under meters and meters of snow. I don’t know about you but I can see one or two problems getting both equipment and teams into this pipeline when there is a pipeline rupture.
Just to give you one other thing to worry about, these pipelines will not be carrying relatively harmless oil. One of the lines will be carrying very nasty chemicals from Kitimat to the Athabaskan Tar Sands. The other will be carrying Dilbit from the Tar Sands to Kitimat.
Dilbit for those who are not up on the subject is really nasty stuff. It is a thinned down Bitumen slurry that does not float. When it is spilt it soaks into the ground and sinks in the water making clean up a practical impossibility short of draining rivers and lakes or burning off the affected land.