There ain’t no Rolaids for sour gas

A sour gas pipeline has ruptured in the town of Turner Valley, south of Calgary:

A sour gas wellhead has ruptured in Turner Valley, Alta., at the same time as the town southwest of Calgary deals with fast-rising flood waters in the Sheep River.

An emergency alert has been issued for the hazardous materials release that is “threatening life and the environment.”

Of note to Vancouverites is that the expansion to the Kinder Morgan pipeline (whose terminus is in Burnaby) is to carry diluted bitumen, which the American Petroleum Institute defines as thus:

One of the types of crude oil derived from the Canadian oil sands is bitumen, a heavy, sour oil. Bitumen would not flow through a pipeline efficiently, so it is mixed with diluents to be readied for pipeline transportation as diluted bitumen, or ‘dilbit.’ Diluents are usually natural gas condensate, naphtha or a mix of other light hydrocarbons.

Every Vancouverite should wonder what the risks to life are of having a potentially poisonous gas transported through a major urban centre, especially one that is bowl-shaped like Burrard Inlet.

However, I do know of one Vancouverite who won’t

In 2011, there were 322 marine accidents; 1,023 rail accidents and five pipeline accidents. The safety record is 99.99 per cent*.  Are pipelines risk-free? The answer is No. Nothing is risk-free. Living is risky!

I risk injuring myself by training for the three half marathons I try to do each year. My physiotherapist can attest to that fact. Three thousand Canadians die each year plying our roads. Do we stop driving? The answer is No.

If there is a spill, pipelines firms are 100 per cent responsible for cleaning up the spill and the land has to be remediated to its original state.

I wonder if pipeline firms are 100 per cent responsible for burying the dead.

*Of note, Mr. Mihlar seems to have taken his stats unquestioningly from the TransCanada pipeline company, rather than, say, Transport Canada.  Whose stats aren’t quite as rosy. Mr. Mihlar also seems to have chosen a year with below average accidents for his example rather than the trend over time.

UPDATE: The leak has now been contained. Of note:

He said the pipeline ruptured when it was hit by river debris from rising flood waters in the area.

Shit happens.

UPDATE 2: Despite having to put a town on evacuation alert due to poison gas being released from a pipeline break caused by flood debris, the Albertan government insists the floods do not threaten the pipeline network. The Albertan government is awesome.

And by “awesome” I mean “irresponsible”.