Tuesday, August 15, 2017

You Can't Tell If It's Safe If You Don't Know What It Is.

The folks in Washington state aren't impressed with the Trudeau/Notley/Kinder-Morgan pipeline initiative. Among other things they're a little pissed off that no one will tell them what's in the dilbit the pipeline pimps want to force through to the coast.

You've got bitumen. That's bad enough. It's laced with carcinogens, acids, abrasives, heavy metals, and granular coal called "petcoke." But what's in the other stuff, the diluent, the light oil that has to be mixed with bitumen just to pass the stuff - under heat and high pressure - through a pipeline at all. Kinder-Morgan doesn't seem to want to talk about that. Neither do Trudeau or Notley.

The data is crucial for spill response planning as the company proceeds with a proposed $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would triple the daily flow between Edmonton, Alta. and Burnaby, B.C. to 890,000 barrels. From the company’s Burnaby site, the oil would be shipped to Asian markets in tankers through Vancouver Harbour and then through the waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait shared by British Columbia and Washington State.

The pipeline company has suggested in responses to National Observer that it has been transparent enough, publishing a list of 52 products that Transport Canada has approved for the pipeline, as well as components listed on crudemonitor.ca for various types of oil. It has told Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) it would quickly disclose ingredients in the event of a spill.

Yet officials in Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources voiced grievous doubts in internal memos dated January 2017. “What is frustrating is ... tar sand oil manufacturers’ lack of transparency on what is used for diluents and those diluent properties, which in my mind (alludes) to dishonesty,” wrote the state’s oil spill response coordinator.

What? Did they say "dishonesty"? Well that would be a first on the Trans-Mountain pipeline, wouldn't it? Actually no. Even the Dauphin has been completely dishonest when it comes to that pipeline, an inveterate liar. Remember - and we do - when he said there would be no pipeline without "social licence" and the backing of First Nations. Remember - and we do - when he said he would "follow the science" which, despite his boastful claims, he's never produced. Remember - and we do - when he criticized the Harper National Energy Board's rigged environmental review and promised it would be done again if only he became prime minister.  Lie, lie, lie and lie. That's Trump-grade lying from Cap'n Selfie. 

South of the border, worries date back to at least 2004, preceding Kinder Morgan’s expansion plan, when a study by the Washington State Department of Ecology concluded that a major oil spill would cost the state 165,000 jobs and US$10.8 billion in economic impacts.

State ecology officials in the spill response section wrote to the Washington State governor in 2013 that, “B.C. lacks authority over marine waters, and their federal regime is probably a couple of decades behind the system currently in place in Washington State. When it is spilled, we are concerned that dilbit oil may be considerably more toxic and damaging, and far more difficult to clean up, than conventional crude from Alaska."

The Washington State oil spill response coordinator expressed acceptance of the need for oil in the current economy, but added that “without unbiased research” governments cannot have an honest debate on many questions. Among the questions: "how fast the diluent will evaporate in real life conditions, how explosive is the air in an oil spill due to properties of diluent and how does this affect a response, how soon will the oil sink, how well will sinking oil be addressed if at all, how will sunken oil be tracked, what will be the impact of that oil on ecosystem(s), how will it be monitored and recorded, and how will we gauge mitigation plans proposed to repair or at least compensate for damage?"

The documents connect the spill questions to the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The same oil spill response official asks, “Without these questions being answered to an exhaustive degree, how can the public be asked to accept these risks? ... How can we honestly say that we are ‘prepared’?

"The times of oil companies asking the public to trust them are over, as we still seek to understand the full implications of the BP oil spill.

And it's pretty obvious that, when it comes to Justin Trudeau, the times of him asking British Columbians to trust him, well, they're also over.


bill said...

The answer is and always has been a simple law making it illegal to ship bitumen or dilbit over provincial boundries. Ironically this would save Alberta and Saskatchewan from themselves by forcing them to build a viable industry that can change to producing products like tar, plastic, grease and a thousand other products when fossil fuels as a source of energy go off into the sunset.

The Mound of Sound said...

A good idea, Bill, but one without a shred of political support.