Letter: Pipelines—Prepare for a spill, don’t just say it won’t happen

To the editor:

In the last year or so there has been a lot of controversy and differences of opinion on the construction of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Enbridge has spent millions of dollars on television commercials telling us how safe this pipeline will be plus of course all of the economic benefits it will bring to residents of B.C. both during construction and after.

I read one interview with Enbridge mangers and when asked what they would do if there was a pipeline rupture and a massive spill they responded with “We do not anticipate a spill.”

Well let’s face it, I am sure that none of the oil spills and disasters in history really planned on it happening, they just simply were not prepared to deal with the results in an efficient manner.

The proposed pipeline from Bruderheim Alberta to Kitimat B.C. is approximately 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) long and has a diameter of 0.914 meters (three feet).  That means that the volume of oil in the pipe when full is 918,904,000 liters (202,130,540 imperial gallons) or 4 1/2 times the volume of the Exxon Valdez.  I do not believe that any resident of Canada, not just B.C., would like to see that spread out across our landscape.

I am not a hydraulic engineer but it seems to me that if they installed a pressure operated valve every 32 kilometers (20 miles) that not only shut off if there was a loss in pressure but shut down the two adjacent valves it would limit any major spills.

The volume of oil in a 32 kilometre stretch is 21,056,000 liters (4,631,670 imperial gallons) and the location of the spill would be limited to a 32 kilometer search instead of the whole pipeline. A quick response team would be able to contain the spill and repair the pipe with only minimal damage to the environment.

I realize that installing 43 valves would probably add a few million dollars onto the cost of the pipeline so instead of spending the money telling us how good it is going to be for us, why not spend the money on improving the system?  Maybe then more people would be in favour of the project.

Richard Callihan,

West Kelowna


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