Pipeline spills and Keystone XL

Pipeline spills are common about the world and certainly in the U.S.  This post is an adjunct to LastTechAge major post on Keystone XL, bringing previously published data into view again.


Part of pipeline spill graphic (see New York Times)

Here is only part of a New York Times graphic published under the bylines of Dan Frosch and Janet Roberts, both excellent reporters following environmental issues. In their 2011 Sep 10 report, they showed that pipeline spills are common.  Click on that article for some interesting data.  (For example, the Michican spill by Enbridge Energy discussed in our previous post lost over 800,000 gallons of oil and will cost over half a million dollars and well over 2 years to clean up.)

Keystone-Ogallala_mapFor reference,  here is a repeat of our map of the Keystone XL project.  It is an add-on to the Keystone line that became operational in February of 2011 (this year).  The current (new new) Keystone ships bitumen slurry to refineries in the U.S. Midwest.  The proposed changes or additions are meant to bypass these refineries, and send a larger volume to the Gulf coast for refining into synthetic crude, and then to the supertankers at our deep water Gulf of Mexico ports.

This map shows the current Keystone in dark green and the dotted red line is Keystone XL. The source of bitumen is in northern Alberta, CA.  There a bunch of other companies operating pipelines, too.  This map shows the path through the major Midwest aquifer, the Ogallala (several million years old and endangered even without oil spill.

Compare these two maps.  The Keystone pipelines and the other lines all run through the Ogallala, and have been leaking throughout.  Now just wait for the map after XL is up and running.

As U.S. citizens, we cannot criticize Canadians about their oil mining policies.  If fact, the hostility is so great that we would risk causing them to draw into a defensive circle, if we were to do so.  But we have one of our principal water sources at risk.  The tar sand product is unusually dangerous,  because the fluidization technique uses naptha to produce the slurry.

click for a list of our posts on KXL

We as a nation have nothing to gain in energy security or long term jobs.  Keystone XL is a way to move product to shipping ports and must be viewed as such.  We have much to lose.   Based on his response to the banking failures of ’08-’09, I would give 10:1 odds that Obama will approve this deal.    Too bad for our children.

Update: 2013 Jun   Ben Stein says worrying about water contamination is for the mentally deranged.  Our response  in Water, Groundwater and XL.


Charles J. Armentrout, Ann Arbor
2011 Oct 28
This is listed under   Natural Resources   …thread  Natural Resources >  KXL
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About LastTechAge

I am a physicist with years of work in fusion labs, industry labs, and teaching (physics and math). I have watched the tech scene, watched societal trends and am alarmed. My interest is to help us all improve or maintain that which we worked so hard to achieve.
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2 Responses to Pipeline spills and Keystone XL

  1. wouldn’t a new northern or north dakota oil refinery be a simpler solution than a cross country pipeline to a hurricane prone oil refinery


    • LastTechAge says:

      Good thought. Or maybe big upgrades to the refineries in Patoka and Wood City Illinois and Cushing Oklahoma. Wouldn’t it be nice if all this were really about increasing petroleum for our U.S. markets through huge increases in local jobs? Too bad this is just marketing smokescreen.

      XL upgrades the current 2 year old pipeline to bring oil faster to the shipping ports on the Gulf coast. More at other post.


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