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Pipeline incidents on the rise: Over 1,000 since year 2000

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PostedOctober 28, 2013 by in Canada
Pipeline incidents on the rise: Over 1,000 since year 2000

2011 Rainbow Pipeline leak in Alberta (Rogu Collecti/Greenpeace)

Read this new report from CBC.ca based on Access to Information documents, detailing a sharp rise in pipeline incidents over the past decade.

Pipelines regulated by the federal government — which include some of the longest lines in the country — have experienced a swell in the number of safety-related incidents over the past decade, documents obtained by CBC News suggest.

In recent months, a spate of oil and gas spills both from train derailments and pipelines have raised questions about what mode of transport is the safest.

The pipeline industry has touted its record as it seeks support for numerous controversial projects across the continent, including TransCanada’s Keystone XL to the U.S. Gulf Coast and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway to the B.C. coast.

However, according to figures from a National Energy Board (NEB) data set obtained under access-to-information by CBC, the rate of overall pipeline incidents has doubled since 2000.

By 2011, safety-related incidents — covering everything from unintentional fires to spills — rose from one to two for every 1,000 kilometres of federally-regulated pipeline. That reflects an increase from 45 total incidents in 2000 to 142 in 2011.

Pipeline watchers like Pembina Institute associate Nathan Lemphers suggest the rise may be a worrisome sign of aging infrastructure.

“The pipelines that are in the ground are getting older and in some cases there’s more products flowing through them so you’re going to see increasing incidents and increasing defects in those pipelines unless they’re properly maintained,” Lemphers said.

The NEB documents give detailed information about 1,047 pipeline safety incidents from Jan. 1, 2000 until late 2012.

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