There's plenty of it and it all points to one conclusion - bitumen trafficking is dangerous.
An 8-person Stanford research team led by Canadian, Stephanie Green, a Banting post-doctoral fellow spent two years studying the impact of bitumen on Canada's marine environment. If you're going to keep your promise, Justin, that your government will follow the science, well, this is it.
The findings were published Tuesday in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment in the midst of what the authors call an "intense public policy debate" about the future of energy.
Bitumen is too heavy to flow freely in a pipeline in ambient temperatures. So it must be shipped after being diluted in a toxic solution, sometimes using a formula that is considered to be an industry trade secret. This product, known as dilbit, could react differently in water when compared to other forms of crude oil that have previously been implicated in spills such as the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster off the coast of Alaska in March 1989 or the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster of April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The secret formula used to ship bitumen could also make it difficult for responders to figure out how to clean up after a spill, the new paper said.
The new study — Oil sands and the marine environment: current knowledge and future challenges — was published less than a month after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved two major pipeline expansion projects, Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin in the U.S. midwest, and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project from Alberta to the Vancouver region on the west coast of B.C.
Together, these projects, if completed, would add more than one million barrels per day of capacity to Canada’s pipeline infrastructure. But they are fiercely opposed by many First Nations leaders, environmentalists and some local mayors who say they pose to great a risk of spills, while pushing the country’s climate change goals out of reach.
The latest research from the scientists adds evidence into the debate that was missing when Trudeau announced his government's decisions.
“As Canadians, I think we often think about what’s happening with our fossil fuel industry, particularly around the oilsands being inland — inland Canada — and looking at the environment there,” said Green, the study’s lead author, in an interview with National Observer. “But as we’re seeing increasing pressure to transport this product globally, it’s connecting that type of industry to the ocean in ways that most of us don’t really consider.”
The scientists who authored the new study shared their findings with the government in November, prior to Trudeau's announcement, and also shared some of the information with reporters. A few days ago, Wendy Palen, one of the co-authors, even noted on Twitter that the scientists had only found four papers that reviewed direct impacts of bitumen on oceans, describing this as "inadequate risk assessment" of industry.
A federal scientist says they're working on this.
“So, (we) use that as an opportunity to learn and corroborate the science that we’ve produced. Luckily those sorts of things are not very common, but we try and learn as much as we can to try to prepare for the next time."
But I suppose we have to give the federal government the benefit of the doubt on this. No, we don't. One word: Corexit.