Pipeline facts were distorted
Re: Are we taking the direct pipeline to disaster?
On Sept. 4, an article appeared in the Red Deer Advocate by Rick Zemanek. In our opinion, the article has been taken out of context and we would like the opportunity to respond.
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 km of pipeline in Canada. In 2012, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.
One of the issues we have with Mr. Zemanek’s article is the context he uses to portray the pipeline industry. For example, our member companies firmly believe that no spill is acceptable. However, what Mr. Zemanek failed to report is that all spills regardless of size must be reported to the regulator. This could include everything from a few tablespoons of crude oil to several thousand litres. It is no different than when Canadians go to the gas station and fill up their vehicles with gas. From time to-time, a few tablespoons of gasoline may spill out of the pump on to the ground and if that were to happen in the field, then those spills would be reported to the regulator So, it is hardly useful to categorize all spills as equal. Context is everything.
The other issue that we have regarding Mr. Zemanek’s article is that he refers to a crude oil spill from one of our member companies, and states “some of the residents were hospitalized after breathing in the gagging stench of sour gas.” A crude oil spill does not contain or produce sour gas. And, then he continues to say, without reporting any evidence, that “the damage to the wildlife and its habitat, and farmland, was far-reaching.” Comments like this are not at all helpful and instill fear-mongering amongst the public — especially when no facts or evidence are presented in the article to support the statements.
Another important point that seems to have been lost in the article is that our member companies have been transporting crude oil and petroleum for decades with very few incidents. However, during that time, technology, materials and equipment have improved. When building a new pipeline today, for example, our member companies will use the most advanced technology and materials available to them. They are experienced in dealing with spills and cleaning up spills when they happen. Then, following an incident, CEPA member companies try to learn from their mistakes and make every effort to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
And lastly, in Mr. Zemanek’s article, he quotes Greenpeace Canada, Alberta Surface Rights Group, Alberta Wilderness Association, an advocate outdoors columnist, a politician and a U.S. pipelines safety expert, but doesn’t identify the U.S. expert’s credentials. However, no where in his article has he interviewed someone from the pipeline industry or our association, which would have been helpful and showed a more balanced view
For more facts about pipelines, we encourage you to visit our website — www.aboutpipelines.com.