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How Safe Are Oil Pipelines?


As government officials work tirelessly to convince us that the Alberta Oil Sands are “ethical oil” and that pipelines are completely safe, an investigative journalist for the New York Times wrote a story about the facts behind oil pipelines.  According to the article, “Since 1990, more than 110 million gallons of mostly crude and petroleum products have spilled from the nation’s mainland pipeline network”, referring to the USA.  Government regulations have become less and less stringent, regulatory bodies have become less funded, and the pipeline infrastructure has only gotten older.  What could possibly go wrong?!?

Answer: “There are still more than 100 significant spills each year — a trend that dates back more than 20 years. And the percentage of dangerous liquids recovered by pipeline operators after a spill has dropped considerably in recent years.”

Please take a look at the image below for a visual summary of the oil spilled in the USA since 1990.

Pipeline Spills.  Photo: New York Times.

Pipeline Spills. Photo: New York Times.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/09/14 12:54 am

    That. Is. Terrifying.
    I am trying to hold out hope that infographics like this one may be the strongest argument against the spin that such pipelines are “safe.” Because obviously, they’re currently anything but.

  2. 2011/09/14 8:04 pm

    I also have the same hope.
    The sad thing is, in countries where regulation is completely non existent, the situation is even worse. Nigeria, for example, has been producing oil for decades and in one region, they’re have been over 7 000 spills totaling 13 million barrels of oil. That’s what happens when oil companies “self-regulate”.

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