Alberta averages two crude oil spills a day for decades and all the AER can do is “urge” companies to improve detection of pipeline leaks?
Pipeline spills are not the exception in Alberta, they are an oily reality, Since 2006, province’s pipelines have spilled the equivalent of almost 28 million litres of oil
A History of Oil Spills on Long-Distance Pipelines in Canada by Sean Kheraj, Dec 2, 2019, The Canadian Historical Review, University of Toronto Press
Sean kheraj is an associate professor of Canadian and environmental history at York University. Learn more about his research at seankheraj.com
Sean Kheraj est professeur agrégé d’histoire du Canada et de l’environnement à l’Université York. Pour en savoir davantage au sujet de ses recherches, voir le site seankheraj.
Leaks and spills have been endemic on long-distance oil pipelines in Canada since the mid-twentieth century. Evidence from the National Energy Board (neb) pipeline incident reports reveal a track record of thousands of spills totalling millions of litres of oil across the country. What causes onshore oil spills? Why do they occur? Where have they occurred? What have been the environmental consequences of these incidents? This article explores the history of onshore oil spills on federally regulated long-distance pipelines since the mid-twentieth century. It argues that oil pipeline spills are an endemic characteristic of complex enviro-technical systems built primarily for economic efficiency rather than environmental protection.Based on the analysis of incident reports submitted to the neb, the article finds that, while frequent, onshore oil spills in Canada have been variable in scale and have had a wide range of potential adverse environmental effects, depending on location, product type, and volume. The causes of such spills have also been variable, conforming to no obvious pattern over time. Instead, oil pipeline spills have occurred most often in an unpredictable fashion, posing great challenges for policy development. These spills have also represented a proportionally small fraction of the total oil delivered on Canada’s long-distance pipelines, but, in absolute terms, this has meant the uncontrolled release of many millions of litres of oil into the environment.
Les fuites et les déversements sont récurrents sur les oléoducs à grande distance au Canada depuis le milieu du xxe siècle. Les rapports d’incidents impliquant des pipelines de l’Office national de l’énergie (ONE) révèlent que des milliers de déversements totalisant des millions de litres de pétrole se sont produits partout au pays. Quelles sont les causes des déversements terrestres d’hydrocarbures? Pourquoi se produisent-ils? Où se sont-ils produits? Quelles ont été les conséquences de ces incidents sur l’environnement? Le présent article étudie les déversements terrestres des pipelines à grande distance sous réglementation fédérale depuis le milieu du xxe siècle. Il soutient que les déversements provenant d’oléoducs sont une caractéristique intrinsèque des systèmes enviro-techniques complexes construits surtout à des fins d’efficacité économique plutôt que de protection de l’environnement. L’analyse des rapports d’incidents soumis à l’ONE révèle en effet que bien que fréquents, les déversements terrestres d’hydrocarbures au Canada ont eu une ampleur variable et des conséquences potentiellement négatives sur l’environnement selon l’emplacement, le type de produit et le volume. Les causes de ces déversements, elles aussi diverses, ne se conforment à aucun modèle qui ressorte au fil du temps. Les déversements d’oléoducs se sont plutôt produits le plus souvent de façon imprévisible, ce qui a beaucoup compliqué l’élaboration des politiques. Si ces déversements représentent également une faible proportion du pétrole total acheminé par les pipelines à grande distance au Canada, il demeure néanmoins qu’ils signifient le rejet incontrôlé de plusieurs millions de litres de pétrole dans l’environnement.
PDF of the paper was very slow to load: https://utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/chr.2019-0005
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