Kinsley taken up on facts offer regarding pipeline spills

I apologize for the delay in replying to Colin Kinsley’s letter (Sentinel June 27) but I have been waiting for relevant information from the National Energy Board.

Dear sir,

I apologize for the delay in replying to Colin Kinsley’s letter (Sentinel June 27) but I have been waiting for relevant information from the National Energy Board.

I note that Mr. Kinsley does not disagree with my correction of his “facts” with regard to Canada’s importation and consumption of oil.

Mr. Kinsley does, however, defend his statement that “there has been no National Energy Board-regulated pipeline built within the last 20 years to have suffered a leak.”

Strangely, Mr. Kinsley prefers to consider only newer pipelines with regard to safety issues. This does not seem to be in keeping with Enbridge’s own assurances that “age doesn’t present a risk for its pipelines, since the company closely monitors all aspects of its network to check for compromises or possible weak spots.” (May 9, 2011 Globe and Mail).

I will accept Mr. Kinsley’s offer to provide me with some facts. I realize that the following pipelines may not all be under the jurisdiction of the National Energy Board, but I am sure Mr. Kinsley will agree that the regulatory boards in the US would have similar standards to those of the NEB, and all of the following pipelines belong to Enbridge.

Mr. Kinsley, please provide the construction dates of the pipelines involved in the following incidents:

1994 – The largest recorded spill on an Enbridge pipeline in Canada is over 22,000 barrels. This occurred near St. Leon, MB.

2002 –  A rupture of an Enbridge Pipeline and release of crude oil near Cohasset, Minnesota spilling 6,000 barrels. In an effort to prevent contamination of the Mississippi River, a controlled burn was used that created a smoke plume about one mile high and five miles long.

2003 –  An Enbridge crude oil pipeline ruptured in Wisconsin. Of 2,380 barrels of oil spilled, 452 barrels flowed into the Nemadji River.

2006 –  Willmar terminal in Saskatchewan.  Pump failure caused 613 barrels to spill.

2007 –  Two spills from an Enbridge pipeline in Wisconsin, spilling 476 barrels and a month later spilling 3,000 barrels of crude oil, contaminating the local water table.

2007 – April 15, Enbridge shut down one of its biggest Canadian oil pipelines to the US after a leak was discovered. Approximately 6,227 barrels of crude oil spilled in a field near Glenavon, Saskatchewan.

2007 –  November 28, a pipeline exploded in Minnesota, causing the deaths of two employees.  Among other things, Enbridge was cited for failing to safely and adequately perform maintenance and repair activities.

2009 –  Ft. MacMurray Alberta, 4,000 barrels were spilled.

2010 –  Virden, Manitoba, Only about 9 barrels, but right into Boghill Creek, a tributary of the Assiniboine River.

2010 – January, 3,000 barrels were spilled in North Dakota.

2010 – An estimated 19,000-barrel leak was discovered on Enbridge’s pipeline in the area of the Kalamazoo River.

2010 –  In September, a rupture on Enbridge’s pipeline near Romeoville, Illinois spilled 6,100 barrels of oil.

2011 – A spill near Willowlake River, NWT, initially reported to be 4 barrels, is now known to be between 700 and 1,500 barrels but was undetected by Enbridge’s equipment.

Just for the record, “The National Energy Board estimates large petroleum pipelines will experience a spill every 16 years for every 1,000 kilometres in length.” [National Energy Board, Analysis of Ruptures and Trends on Major Canadian Pipeline Systems, 2004]


Margaret Ouwehand.