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Corrosion Fuels Pipeline Opposition

Monday, September 21, 2015

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Canadian groups opposed to a transcontinental pipeline proposal are saying that corrosion problems affecting another major pipeline could happen to the new one.

Mark Calzavara, a regional organizer for the Council of Canadians, recently told the National Observer that he’s concerned a worst-case scenario is possible for the TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.

He said potential problems recently identified with the company’s Keystone XL pipeline indicate that a rupture could occur along the mainline at the bottom of a river valley with long, upward slopes on both sides.

©iStock.com /  wolv

Groups opposed to TransCanada's porposed Energy East pipeline say corrosion concerns within the company's Keystone pipeline system could occur in the new pipeline and lead to ruptures.

“That’s where you get your worst-case scenario of a maximum leak approaching 30-million litres,” Calzavara told the media outline on Sept. 4. “That’s absolutely a worst-case scenario. But it’s a possibility.”

Briefs, Reports

That week, the council had released a briefing paper in which it said nearly half of the ruptures along the mainline were the result of corrosion and cracking; external corrosion; and coating and welding failures.

In another briefing document the council released in 2014, the council said that the mainline has had nine events since 1991, the National Observer reported.

The council wrote in that document: “Despite TransCanada’s claims of strict spill monitoring controls, almost all of the spills were discovered by people, not fancy electronic monitoring systems, and most were caused by stress, corrosion and cracking.”

And the council is not the first to note pipeline corrosion risks, the media outlet reported. In 2013, the Alberta Energy Regulator said external corrosion was the second-leading cause of pipeline failures at 12.7 percent. Most of those were a result of age or excessive production temperatures, the company had said.

From West to East

TransCanada has proposed the Energy East pipeline to carry oil from Alberta’s oil sands in western Canada across the country to the Atlantic Ocean. It would span 4,200 kilometers and carry 1.1 million barrels of crude daily, the news outlet said.

Although those in favor of it say the pipeline would create 10,000 jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue, critics have said they are concerned about the pipeline’s environmental effect of building the pipeline and about oil spills.

Tim Duboyce, a TransCanada spokesman, told the National Observer that the company only leaves in service those pipelines that have been tested and monitored.

©iStock.com /  rootstocks

Tim Duboyce, a TransCanada spokesman, told the National Observer that the company only leaves in service those pipelines that have been tested and monitored.

“If something starts to deteriorate and it gets detected, we fix it,” Duboyce told the publication. “I think when you look at our safety record, that’s working.”

Communities Band Together

But others disagree, according to several recent reports. CBC/Radio-Canada reported Sept. 10 that the mayor of Laval said his city is “firmly against it” and hopes other communities will join in a coalition to oppose the pipeline. On Sept. 15, CBC said the town of Oka had adopted a resolution opposing Energy East.

The opposition comes at a time when TransCanada is battling similar issues on its Keystone XL. In July, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission held hearings on the proposed—and also opposed—Keystone XL.

In a blog appearing on the Huffington Post’s website, writer Brendan DeMelle said attorneys for tribes and community groups asked tough questions about the pipeline and created a “major headache for TransCanada.”

Spilling the Data

The National Observer also said a June 2015 report from the Polaris Institute disputes Duboyce’s statement that TransCanada has not had an integrity leak.

The report, which says it uses TransCanada’s own data, showed that the company spilled 441.7 barrels of oil in 152 spills between 2010 and 2013 in the U.S. and in Canada.

Meanwhile, Duboyce told CBC on Sept. 10 that Laval is being premature, and that TransCanada remains determined to proceed with the Energy East pipeline.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Government; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipeline; Pipelines; Quality Control

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