On Friday, a 20 inch pipeline carrying Canadian heavy crude oil ruptured in Arkansas flooding the town of Mayflower with 84,000 gallons of the world’s dirtiest oil. The pipeline was carrying Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude, a heavy bitumen crude diluted with lighter liquids to allow it to flow through pipelines. the oil is produced in the Athabasca region, where the oil sands are located.
According to Exxon, the Pegasus pipeline carries 90,000 barrels of oil per day from Pakota, Illinois, to Nederland, Texas. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline will carry 800,000 barrels per day from Canada the Gulf Coast refining hub. This is the second spill of Canadian oil in the past week. A tanker train derailed in Minnesota spilling 15,000 gallons of oil.
This has prompted critics of Keystone XL, to point out the dangers of the pipeline and urge the president to reject the permit. “This latest pipeline incident is a troubling reminder that oil companies still have not proven that they can safely transport Canadian tar sands oil across the United States without creating risks to our citizens and our environment,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.
Chris Takkett at Treehugger explains what happens when a pipeline breaks:
I’m no engineer, but from what I understand, when a section of pipe ruptures, the quantity of oil that can spill is as large as the pipe is thick and long until you reach the nearest shutoff valve. It also depends on how fast the pipeline operators notice the spill, shut off the flow and close the leak.
At Crooks and Liars, Diane Sweet noted:
In 2009, Exxon modified the capacity of the Pegasus pipeline, increasing the capacity to transport Canadian tar sands oil by 50 percent, or about 30,000 barrels per day. In a 2012 report, Bloomberg News reported the pipeline daily capacity to be 96,000 barrels of oil per day.
Tar sands oil is the most toxic fossil fuel on the planet, that leaves in its wake scarred landscapes, a web of pipelines, and polluting refineries.
This morning on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman spoke with environmental activist Bill McKibben of 350.org about the spill.
The Sierra Club explains why this type of oil, diluted bitumen (dilbit), is different making it difficult to clean up: