In the words of one of our colorful neighbors: “having a little oil leak is like being a little bit pregnant”. In light of the recent oil spill in North Dakota and the three year anniversary of the continuing clean up from the massive Enbridge oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we thought it might be a good time to review the real risk in a new pipeline corridor.
In May of 2012, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on how Enbridge, Canada’s biggest oil and gas pipeline company, is breaking National Energy Board safety rules at 117 of its 125 pump stations across the country – more here.
Enbridge already has six pipelines across prime farmland in Wrenshall and Carlton, the oldest was installed in 1950.
A report was filed in August of this year with the Canadian National Energy Board by pipeline regulators cautioning that claims by Enbridge Inc. that it improved its safety procedures and adopted sophisticated inspection practices are exaggerated and that pipeline ruptures as catastrophic as the company’s 2010 accident in Marshall, Michigan are still possible. The report was subsequently lodged with the U.S. Department of State. Read the report here.
Jeffrey Wiese, the nation’s top oil and gas pipeline safety official, has publicly stated that the regulatory process he oversees is “kind of dying.” With few tools to work with, he is forced to resort to a YouTube channel to persuade the industry to voluntarily improve safety. More here.
Finally – below is just a brief round up and review of Enbridge Energy’s Safety record from 2000-2010:
by Joyce Nelson, part of a feature in the March-April, 2012 Watershed Sentinel
2000: 7,513 barrels. Enbridge reported 48 pipeline spills and leaks, including a spill of 1,500 barrels at Innes, Sask.
2001: 25,980 barrels. Enbridge pipelines reported 34 spills and leaks, totalling 25,980 barrels of oil, including a January spill from Enbridge’s Energy Transportation North Pipeline that leaked 23,900 barrels of crude oil into a slough near Hardisty, Alberta, and a September spill of 598 barrels in Binbrook, Ont.
2002: 14,683 barrels. Enbridge reported 48 oil spills and leaks, totalling 14,683 barrels, including a leak of 6,133 barrels in Kerrobert, Sask. in January; a seam failure in May that spilled 598 barrels in Glenboro, Man.; and a pipeline rupture into a marsh west of Cohasset, Minn. To prevent 6,000 barrels of crude oil from reaching the Mississippi River, Enbridge set the oil on fire.
2003: 6,410 barrels. Enbridge pipelines had 62 spills and leaks, totalling 6,410 barrels, including a January spill of 4,500 barrels of oil at the company’s oil terminal near Superior, Wisc., and a June spill of 452 barrels of oil into Wisconsin’s Nemadji River. In April, an Enbridge gas pipeline exploded, levelling a strip mall in Etobicoke, Ont. and killing seven people.
2004: 3,252 barrels. Enbridge pipelines had 69 reported spills, totalling 3,252 barrels of oil, including a February valve failure in Fort McMurray, Alta. that leaked 735 barrels of oil.
2005: 9,825 barrels. Enbridge had 70 reported spills, totalling 9,825 barrels of oil.
2006: 5,363 barrels. Enbridge had 61 reported spills, totalling 5,363 barrels of oil, including a March 613 barrel spill at its Willmar terminal in Saskatchewan and a December spill of 2,000 barrels at a pumping station in Montana.
2007: 13,777 barrels. Enbridge had 65 spills and leaks, totalling 13,777 barrels of oil, including a January pipeline break near Stanley, North Dakota, which spilled 215 barrels of oil; two pipeline incidents in January/February in Clark and Rusk Counties in Wisconsin which spilled 4,200 barrels of oil; and an April spill of approximately 6,227 barrels of oil into a field down-stream of an Enbridge pumping station at Glenavon, Sask. In November, an Enbridge pipeline carrying bitumen to U.S. Midwest markets exploded near Clearbrook, Minn., killing two workers.
2008: 2,682 barrels. Enbridge had 80 reported spills and leaks, totalling 2,682 barrels of oil, including a January incident at an Enbridge pumping station at the Cromer Terminal in Manitoba that leaked 629 barrels of crude; a February incident in Weyburn, Sask., which leaked 157 barrels; and a March spill of 252 barrels of oil in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
2009: 8,441 barrels. Enbridge had 103 reported oil spills and leaks, totalling 8,441 barrels, including a pipeline incident at the Enbridge Cheecham Terminal tank farm that spilled 5,749 barrels of oil near Anzac, Alberta; a spill of 704 barrels in Kisbey, Sask.; and a spill of 1,100 barrels at Odessa, Sask.
2010: 34,122 barrels. Enbridge had 80 reported pipeline spills, totalling 34,122 barrels, including a January Enbridge pipeline leak near Neche, North Dakota of 3,000 barrels of oil; an April incident near Virden, Man. that leaked 12 barrels of oil into Bosshill Creek; a July pipeline spill in Marshall, Michigan that dumped 20,000 barrels of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River, causing the biggest oil spill in U.S. Midwest history; and a September pipeline spill of 6,100 barrels in Romeoville, Ill.
Total: 132,715 barrels of oil, more than half the Exxon Valdez spill of 257,000 barrels
Sources: Prince George Citizen (March 12, 2010); The Polaris Institute (May 2010); The Tyee (31 July 2010); Reuters (Sept. 10, 2010); Enbridge.com 2010; Vancouver Sun (May 10, 2011); The Globe & Mail (June 17, 2011); Dogwood Initiative
This is a map of oil spills by state: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2013/07/08/map_ew_01a.png
U.S. well sites in 2012 discharged more than Valdez: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059983941
A map of two decades of oil spills: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/09/business/energy-environment/pipeline-spills.html?_r=0
More on the 117 violations at pumping stations: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/04/05/Enbridge-Pumping-Stations/