It is a truth universally acknowledged, that pipelines — whether old, new or somewhere in between — are likely to rupture and spill oil into their surrounding environment, exposing ecosystem and human health to unacceptable risks.
Or so it seems, if recent headlines are any indication.
Nexen Energy is the latest in a long line of pipeline operators to report a spill in Alberta. More than five million litres of emulsion — a mixture of bitumen, sand and water — have leaked at the company’s Long Lake oilsands facility outside of Fort McMurray. Covering an area of about 16,000 square metres, the spill is one of the biggest in Canadian history.
And yet, despite a growing number of pipeline incidents and mounting international and domestic pressure to act on climate change, Canada’s premiers have inexplicably signed off on a national energy strategy that includes plans to fast-track pipelines to move fossil fuels to overseas markets. They seemed to have missed the message that expanding a leaky and unreliable pipeline network does not just put people and the environment at immediate risk, but also takes us in the wrong direction on climate change.
Nexen’s ruptured pipeline is fairly new and started operations just last year, which makes this accident particularly troubling.
Even with double-layered construction and a "fail-safe" leak detection system, the spill was not detected until a contractor walking along the pipeline’s route saw the breach. Unfortunately, despite technological advances, pipeline monitoring systems still consistently fail.
READ MORE: Huffington Post Blog by EcoJustice | Posted: 07/22/2015 6:54 pm EDT