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Fossil Fuel Spill Updates: Keystone Pipeline and Others


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#1 LFC

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 10:10 PM

Well that didn't take long. Of course with TransCanada's track record we didn't expect it to.

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ransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators reported Thursday.

Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated.

Officials don’t believe the leak affected any surface water bodies or threatened any drinking water systems from the spill onto agricultural land, said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which has dispatched a staff member to the site.

“Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCanada, and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,” Walsh said.

Oh, they're responsible for the cleanup? Yeeeeaaaah. Good luck with that.
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#2 andydp

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 06:58 AM

View PostLFC, on 16 November 2017 - 10:10 PM, said:

Well that didn't take long. Of course with TransCanada's track record we didn't expect it to.
(snip)
Oh, they're responsible for the cleanup? Yeeeeaaaah. Good luck with that.

I guess he didn't read the fine print. Congratulations South Dakota !! You own it now ! (Along with all the other US Taxpayers>)

Serious question: Is there a way to burn up the soiled sand and generate power with it ?
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#3 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 08:49 AM

View Postandydp, on 17 November 2017 - 06:58 AM, said:

Serious question: Is there a way to burn up the soiled sand and generate power with it ?

Only by investing several times as much petroleum and coal as it will return.
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#4 LFC

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 10:13 AM

View Postandydp, on 17 November 2017 - 06:58 AM, said:

I guess he didn't read the fine print. Congratulations South Dakota !! You own it now ! (Along with all the other US Taxpayers>)

Serious question: Is there a way to burn up the soiled sand and generate power with it ?

I worked a bit in this area years ago and yes (sorta', kinda'). The total heat that comes out of the entire process (not just the spilled oil) is referred to as "waste heat". You need to first get the boiler up to heat and then incinerate the contaminant in the soil. The problem is that these facilities usually don't run on a continual basis so actually paying for the installation of the generation equipment is generally not economically feasible.
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#5 LFC

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 04:05 PM

Nebraska, a red state. Gotta' love the "less regulation" stance reflected in this regulation.

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Discovery of a 210,000-gallon oil leak from the Keystone pipeline would seem to be poor timing four days before regulators in Nebraska decide whether to allow a major expansion of the system, but officials say state law does not allow pipeline safety to be a factor in their decision.

Quote

The Nebraska vote Monday will be on a proposed route for Keystone XL, a massive expansion that also would be operated by TransCanada. The new pipeline would carry an estimated 830,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil sands areas of Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect with the existing Keystone pipeline.

The decision will hinge on testimony and documents generated from public hearings over the summer and from more than 500,000 public comments, Nebraska Public Service Commission spokeswoman Deb Collins said. A state law passed in 2011 prevents the commission from factoring pipeline safety or the possibility of leaks into its decisions.

“The commission’s decision … will be based on the evidence in the record,” Collins said.

The Keystone XL proposal has faced intense opposition in Nebraska from a coalition of environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners who don’t want the pipeline running through their property.

Nebraska lawmakers gave the five-member commission the power to regulate major oil pipelines in 2011 in response to a public outcry over the pipeline and its potential impact on the Sandhills, an ecologically fragile region of grass-covered sand dunes.

But when they passed the law, legislators argued that pipeline safety is a federal responsibility and should not factor in the state decision.

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#6 pnwguy

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 04:15 PM

View PostLFC, on 18 November 2017 - 04:05 PM, said:

Nebraska, a red state. Gotta' love the "less regulation" stance reflected in this regulation.

Well heck, they only spilled less than 1 percent (5000 bbls) of a day's capacity. That's a pretty good yield. They can afford to spill LOTS more and still be profitable! :P

What's a little bit of waste between friendly corporations? Maybe they can expand their business into nuclear waste transport.
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#7 Rue Bella

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 05:08 PM

Quote

A state law passed in 2011 prevents the commission from factoring pipeline safety or the possibility of leaks into its decisions.

WTH??? Seems like a pretty big consideration to me.

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#8 AnBr

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 11:04 PM

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#9 LFC

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 10:28 AM

I did a little googling and found the following interesting facts. A tanker truck holds 9,000 gallons of oil. A rail car holds 30,000 gallons. One of the talking points for why pipelines are better is that trucks and trains have accidents and spill oil too. So doing the math we see that if 7 rail cars crash in exactly the same spot or 23-1/3 trucks crash in the same spot (or any combination of the two you'd like to work out) we would have the very same type of pinpoint disaster. Now imagine if the leak was near a waterway. Pipelines simply hold a much greater danger of a much larger spill that can cause much worse damage. (Too much "much"?)
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#10 J-CA

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 11:07 PM

View PostLFC, on 19 November 2017 - 10:28 AM, said:

I did a little googling and found the following interesting facts. A tanker truck holds 9,000 gallons of oil. A rail car holds 30,000 gallons. One of the talking points for why pipelines are better is that trucks and trains have accidents and spill oil too. So doing the math we see that if 7 rail cars crash in exactly the same spot or 23-1/3 trucks crash in the same spot (or any combination of the two you'd like to work out) we would have the very same type of pinpoint disaster. Now imagine if the leak was near a waterway. Pipelines simply hold a much greater danger of a much larger spill that can cause much worse damage. (Too much "much"?)
These things are true, but the fact of the matter is that pipelines move a lot more oil with a lot fewer spills than any other mechanism.
The solution here is not to quibble about transport mechanisms, it is to rapidly migrate away from oil in a way that makes new pipelines bad business propositions and to regulate existing pipelines in a manner that minimizes spills.
In a fixed-demand environment existing pipelines are "good" - they are the most energy-efficient and safest way to move crude oil. Obviously the fact that they are efficient has the negative effect of improving upstream margins and inducing production but the economy is a complex thing.
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#11 JackD

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 11:18 PM

That will require development of renewable and solar sources of energy as well as efficient and higher capacity batteries. To get the federal government to encourage those things will require a change of power in that government.

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 11:40 PM

With any luck, the US can have its own tar sands in Nebraska.
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#13 AnBr

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 12:08 AM

View PostJ-CA, on 19 November 2017 - 11:07 PM, said:

These things are true, but the fact of the matter is that pipelines move a lot more oil with a lot fewer spills than any other mechanism.

True. Working out the volume of a spill is meaningless outside of the context of spills per volume of oil moved and the differing probabilities of a spill for each method of transport. There would also be the carbon footprint for each method that should be accounted for. As J-CA mentioned, the real solution is to move away from oil, which we are, just not as fast as we should be.
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#14 LFC

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 09:02 AM

View PostJ-CA, on 19 November 2017 - 11:07 PM, said:

These things are true, but the fact of the matter is that pipelines move a lot more oil with a lot fewer spills than any other mechanism.
The solution here is not to quibble about transport mechanisms, it is to rapidly migrate away from oil in a way that makes new pipelines bad business propositions and to regulate existing pipelines in a manner that minimizes spills.
In a fixed-demand environment existing pipelines are "good" - they are the most energy-efficient and safest way to move crude oil. Obviously the fact that they are efficient has the negative effect of improving upstream margins and inducing production but the economy is a complex thing.

View PostAnBr, on 20 November 2017 - 12:08 AM, said:

True. Working out the volume of a spill is meaningless outside of the context of spills per volume of oil moved and the differing probabilities of a spill for each method of transport. There would also be the carbon footprint for each method that should be accounted for. As J-CA mentioned, the real solution is to move away from oil, which we are, just not as fast as we should be.

None of that matters if you're the one impacted by at multi-thousand / tens of thousands / hundreds of thousands of gallons spill. The possibility of highly local catastrophe skyrockets with a pipeline over any other transport method. Of course there are plenty of downsides to rail and truck but the potential of the risk of total destruction of a waterway or an aquifer isn't really one of them.

And for your perusal, Wikipedia has a list of pipeline spills since 2000. This link jumps to 2017.

I agree that the real solution is to get away from oil but new pipelines keep jacking up the risk for the people nearby. On top of that I remember looking it up before when Keystone was being discussed here. TransCanada actually has a pretty poor record. Spills from them aren't "if", they're "when".
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

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#15 Traveler

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 10:34 AM

LFC, I was pretty sure the odds are far higher for tank car spills. But there is a better way to look at it.

Quote

Crude oil is moving around the world, around our country, around pristine wilderness, around our cities and towns. It’s going to keep moving, will undoubtedly increase during our new energy boom, so what is the safest way to move it?

The short answer is: truck worse than train worse than pipeline worse than boat (Oilprice.com). But that’s only for human death and property destruction. For the normalized amount of oil spilled, it’s truck worse than pipeline worse than rail worse than boat(Congressional Research Service). Different yet again is for environmental impact (dominated by impact to aquatic habitat), where it’s boat worse than pipeline worse than truck worse than rail.

So it depends upon what your definition is for worse. Is it death and destruction? Is it amount of oil released? Is it land area or water volume contaminated? Is it habitat destroyed? Is it CO2 emitted?
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#16 LFC

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 12:18 PM

View PostTraveler, on 20 November 2017 - 10:34 AM, said:

LFC, I was pretty sure the odds are far higher for tank car spills.

Again I'm not talking about the odds. I'm talking about the potential of a catastrophic spill. The more oil you're moving at one time the greater the risk. Think nuclear power vs. coal. Coal fired plants have risk associated with them including exploding boilers, ash discharge into the surrounding community, etc. These risks can be expected to occur more frequently than with nuclear power. But as the Japanese can tell you the risk of severe catastrophic impacts from a nuke plant are much higher. So less frequent, more catastrophic.

Example: No truck crash or train derailment will ever create a spill with a single point impact like this recent spill.

Quote

  • On October 18, Louisiana-based oil company LLOG Exploration had a crude oil spill of about 672,000 gallons, 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, citing the cause as a cracked pipeline under the Gulf of Mexico.

EDIT: I should have probably said ship accident since it's an underwater pipeline. I'm pretty sure any truck or rail car attempting a route of 40 miles underwater would fare ... poorly.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#17 Traveler

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 12:22 PM

Good point on that one. The pipeline should have had automatic isolation and shutoff valves. I wonder about the leak detection system as well. Classic case of foisting externalities.
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#18 LFC

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 04:13 PM

Nebraska approves the pipeline but not the route TransCanada wanted. Unless Nebraska made some kind of promise I don't understand the basis for "further litigation". So states no longer have the right to determine what projects may or may not run through them? WTF? It's not like its self-governed tribal land.

Quote

TransCanada’s $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline got the go-ahead from the Nebraska Public Service Commission on Monday, clearing the last regulatory hurdle in a nine-year effort to build a line to carry thick crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands region to refineries on the Texas gulf coast.

But the five-member commission rejected TransCanada’s preferred route and voted to approve an alternative plan that would move the pipeline further east. The route of the new pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude, would circumvent more of the state’s ecologically delicate Sandhills region.

The commission’s decision to back an alternative route could complicate TransCanada’s plans, forcing the pipeline company to arrange easements from different landowners. In its submissions, TransCanada had portrayed the alternative route as unworkable. Further litigation is likely.

Apparently they're trying to keep it away from most of the Sandhills. One member dissented completely, making some very good points. The part about not consulting the state's tribes sounds particularly slimy but not at all shocking.

Quote

While the approved alternative route would largely avoid the Sandhills, it would still cross small shallow parts of the Ogallala aquifer, the main source of drinking and irrigation water in Nebraska and much of the Great Plains.

In her dissent, Rhoades said she opposed the pipeline regardless of the route. She said that the pipeline was not in the state’s public interest, that jobs would not go to Nebraskans, that it would create “significant burdens” on landowners whose use of the pipeline corridor would be limited, and that she was still worried about the environmental impact.

“All human-made infrastructure degrades and fails over time,” she wrote. “No infrastructure ever designed has lasted for eternity and there is no reason to believe this pipeline will be an exception.” Rhoades acknowledged that the commission was not supposed to weigh the risks of spills, but she said the state’s Department of Environmental Quality had included it in the record.

While TransCanada has promoted the pipeline project as a jobs creator, Rhoades said that “there was no evidence provided that any jobs created by the construction of this project would be given to Nebraska residents.”

She also said that TransCanada had failed to consult Nebraska’s Native American tribes. She noted that the company said it had consulted with the Southern Ponca Tribe, but Rhoades said that resides in Oklahoma. “This is the equivalent of asking a distant relative for permission to do a major construction in your backyard,” she wrote.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#19 J-CA

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 08:33 PM

View PostTraveler, on 20 November 2017 - 12:22 PM, said:

Good point on that one. The pipeline should have had automatic isolation and shutoff valves. I wonder about the leak detection system as well. Classic case of foisting externalities.
The leak detection system for pipelines is based on pressure loss, without physical inspections "small" leaks are undetectable. Another big problem is that the pressure drop detection systems in older pipelines are notoriously unreliable. Operators are known to stop and restart segments after a detected leak because of so many false positives, air bubbles and blockages rather than leaks, making things worse.
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#20 LFC

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 10:10 AM

View PostJ-CA, on 20 November 2017 - 08:33 PM, said:

Another big problem is that the pressure drop detection systems in older pipelines are notoriously unreliable.

FMI, do you know what causes them to be unreliable? Is it the actual detection system sensors that are failing or is it something to do with the actual pipeline?
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer





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