Myth: This pipeline will put my community’s drinking water source at risk
Fact: The Energy East project team will take special measures when crossing bodies of water
Safety is TransCanada’s top priority. It has been so since we started business over 60 years ago. We take extensive preventative measures to ensure that our pipelines are as safe as possible. This is why we spend an average of $900 million every year on pipeline integrity and proactive inspection and maintenance programs to ensure that our infrastructure systems work the way they should. TransCanada will continue to invest in new technologies and maintenance to ensure our pipelines, including Energy East, transport Canadian resources safely and reliably.
This focus on safety starts right from the development and construction phase of a project. The Energy East project team will analyse each body of water along the pipeline route and design water-crossings on a case-by-case basis. TransCanada takes extra precautions around bodies of water, implementing thicker-walled reinforced steel pipe and shut-off valves on both sides of the waterway that can isolate an incident area within minutes to limit the impact of a potential spill.
The network is monitored via satellite technology from our high-tech control centre – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These are just a few of the safety measures we will take when Energy East crosses bodies of water. Along with these safety measures, the pipeline will have multiple, site-specific Emergency Response Plans developed in collaboration with local emergency responders to guarantee a quick response in the case of an accident.
Learn more about our safety standards.
Myth: Pipelines are unsafe
Fact: Pipelines are the safest way of transporting large quantities of crude oil over land
Rising oil production in both Canada and the United States is fast outpacing the transportation capacity of our pipeline infrastructure. The Fraser Institute, a Canadian public policy think tank, said in a recent report on “Intermodal safety in the transport of oil” that resistance to pipeline transport was sending oil to market by modes of transport – such as rail and truck – that posed higher risks of spill and personal injuries than pipelines do.
The North American energy industry has been increasingly relying on trains to transport oil because of a lack of pipeline availability. U.S. freight railroads transported about 415,000 carloads of crude in 2013, up from just 9,500 in 2008, according to government and industry figures. Many of those trains, some of which are 100-car long, pass through or near scores of cities and fragile ecosystems, and their number is set to rise much further if the oil transport conundrum is not solved by building more pipelines. TransCanada has more than 60 years of experience building and operating safe and reliable pipelines across North America. Our goal is zero pipeline incidents that impact public safety or the environment.
Myth: Pipeline companies do not accept responsibility for spills
Fact: Energy East is 100 per cent responsible for responding, cleaning and restoring the site in the unlikely event of a pipeline leak
Canada’s pipeline regulations are rigorous, transparent and among the most stringent in the world. TransCanada must meet these standards as well as numerous norms prescribed by the Canadian Standards Association related to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipeline systems. This is also our duty as a responsible company, and one that we have taken very seriously throughout our 60-year existence.
If an incident should ever occur on the Energy East Pipeline, Energy East would be 100 per cent responsible for the required remediation work and the cost associated with it. Our company would also strive to return any impacted site back to the condition it was in prior to the incident. We conduct regular emergency exercises and aerial surveys, and we are always ready to respond effectively in the event of an emergency with a highly-trained response team standing by.
Myth: Diluted bitumen is corrosive to pipeline steel
Fact: Dilbit is no more corrosive than conventional crude oils
Oil sands bitumen has a consistency similar to that of peanut butter so it needs to be reduced in viscosity through the addition of a diluent in order to flow through the pipeline. Some opponents claim that pipelines carrying diluted bitumen – or “dilbit” – have more internal corrosion, and are therefore presenting safety risks. That is not true. Year after year, multiple studies conducted by some of the world’s leading and most respected scientific research organizations (U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Battelle Memorial Institute, Penspen Institute and Natural Resources Canada…) have all concluded that dilbit behaves the same way as conventional crude oils and does not pose any additional risk when transported through pipelines.
Corrosivity in transmission pipelines comes from two sources – water content and erosive constituents such as mud and sand. Those substances are removed before crude oil enters pipelines. Any oil transported by TransCanada’s pipelines – and Energy East will be no exception – must meet stringent quality specifications before it is accepted from the shipper.
Myth: Oil from the oil sands is harder to clean up after a spill in a waterway
Fact: Dilbit behaves the same way as conventional crude oil, which floats on water
The Energy East Pipeline will transport all kinds of oils including conventional light and heavy oil, oil from shale deposits (light oil), and oil from the oil sands both in the form of synthetic crude oil (light oil) and diluted bitumen (heavy oil).
All oil does have the potential to sink if it is allowed to stay in the water for an extended time, making a swift clean-up essential. Cleaning up diluted bitumen poses the same challenges as cleaning up conventional oil. In both cases, environmental and site conditions determine the best procedures and equipment to use. This is why TransCanada works hard to develop and implement multiple, site-specific Emergency Response Plans in collaboration with local emergency responders to ensure quick response in the case of an incident.
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