In yesterday's paper there was a story that, contrary to eco-terrorists' claims, dilbit floats and so is quite amenable to conventional oil spill recovery efforts. The claim, naturally, came from an Enbridge spokesman.
Guess what? He's right. Dilbit, the mixture of bitumen and the dilutents necessary to lower its viscosity enough for it to be able to be pumped through pipelines, does indeed float.
Dilbit floats for a while. Then the dilutents separate out of the bitumen. The dilutents vaporize on the surface into a toxic cloud. The bitumen sinks to the bottom. As in the bitumen-lined bottom of the Kalamazoo River where Enbridge is balking at demands it clean up its mess.
Here are a couple of other facts that Enbridge seems to have overlooked. The spill recovery fleet it will deploy is capable of handling a 10,000 barrel spill of conventional oil. The supertankers that will run out of Kitimat will carry 300,000 barrels, not 10,000. And, while Enbridge's fleet of oil spill recovery vessels looks impressive, it can only operate effectively in calm waters. In rough waters it can't put out to sea much less recover spilled oil much less recover sinking bitumen. And if there's a hallmark of the northern B.C. coast it's rough water, seriously rough water. Waves from 10 to 30-metres high.
Enbridge is playing to the gullible. They want the public to believe fantasies such as the one about how two tugboats can keep a laden supertanker safe against the ravages of the Hecate Strait. Two veteran Canadian Navy commanders have already testified that's nonsense.
But, still, it gets in the papers and those who are disposed to want to believe such things will point to it with righteous indignation and accuse critics of being alarmist. And that's really what Enbridge is aiming for.