How much oil spill is acceptable?

Just a short entry today, I needed somewhere to show my calculations for a tweet / status update on this.

I was about to email one of my senators and mention some stuff about the Northern Gateway pipeline, and I found this site:

This is of course Enbridge’s site to market its proposed pipeline.

By their own words:

Liquid pipeline spills along rights of way have decreased over the past decade, in terms of both the number of spills and the amount of product spilled. On average, for every barrel of oil (42 gallons) shipped 1,000 miles, less than one teaspoon is lost from a liquid pipeline.

Converting to metric, that’s 1,609 km. They plan to transport 525,000 barrels of tarsands oil a day to the West coast from Edmonton, along a 1,177 km pipeline.

So let’s say “less than one teaspoon” is 0.9 tsp, or 4.5 mL.  Multiply that by 1,177 / 1,609, and that’s 3.29 mL of oil spilled for each barrel shipped along the Northern Gateway pipeline.  Multiply that by 525,000 barrels a day.  That’s 1,727,250 mL of oil spill per day.  To make that easier to understand, that’s 1,727.25 L of oil spilled every day out of this pipeline. Every day.  That’s 630,446.25 L of oil spill per year, spread out over Northern Alberta and BC.

And that’s on average.  There’s no particular reason to think this pipeline will have more or less spillage, other than the fact that large parts of it will run through mountains. Even if they can engineer their way through the mountains without hurting the integrity of the line, if a spill does occur it could take a long time to get to the affected area to fix it.  Oh, and it’s not like Enbridge has a good track record with these things.  It’s risky.

But even without adjusting for any of that, it’s a lot of petroleum all over our landscape.  This is why I oppose the pipeline.

(Edit July 30, 2012 – corrected a grammar error and added link to Kalamazoo spill coverage).


3 responses to this post.

  1. This is a great thing to bring to people’s attention; a lot of people don’t realize the amount of pollution that is spilt throughout the environment on a daily basis- absolutely horrific. The pipeline proposal needs to be shot down.


  2. 1,727.25 L per day doesn’t sound any near as clean as 1 tsp.


  3. Posted by NotSheep on 2012/07/27 at 1:07 pm

    I like to point out the fact that they consider 1.4 spills per 1000 KM to be a very good pipeline. The northern gateway will have 2000 km of pipe, over the some of the steepest terrain in North America. Who this year experienced some fairly serious washouts, mudslides, and mountain erosion (mainly due to deforestation, land development, etc). If they cant build and maintain a pipeline in Michigan, what makes you think they can do it in BC? I think its time for sheeple to grow up and stop believing in fairy tales. “Step right up, take a look at this cure all elixer, it instantly eliminates poverty, unemployement, starvation, not only will it make you live longer, but its good for hundreds of other ailments, for the very low price of your home, and possibly your childrens health, it could be all yours”. (Brings a whole new meaning to the term “snake oil salesman”). Malo periculosam libertatem, quam quietum servitium.


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