Pipelines breach and it is not rare when they do

In article on NBC News written by Dennis Romero called “In Kansas, crews contain largest-yet breach of Keystone Pipeline,” it tells of better news in stopping a large oil spill in Kansas. Yet, the story goes deeper as it shows the breaches are not uncommon. The last time I paid attention to this story, there had been fourteen breaches. Now we are up to twenty-two.

The full article is below. The following summarizes a few paragraphs. Just focus on the highlighted pieces for a quick thumbnail sketch.

“The operator of the Keystone Pipeline System, which carries a form of crude oil from Canada to multiple states for refining, said over the weekend that its largest breach yet has been contained for now.

The pipeline failure 3 miles east of Washington, Kansas, on Wednesday caused an estimated 14,000 barrels of crude, or 588,000 gallons of a form of crude known as tar sands oil, to spill into Mill Creek, a natural waterway, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the U.S. Transportation Department….

In the last five years, there have been at least three significant spills along the original Keystone Pipeline System, Wednesday’s being the most voluminous, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The pipeline regulators also noted accidents and breaches in the Keystone system in 2011, 2016 and 2020. The affected section is part of the 288-mile Cushing Extension, completed in 2011, which takes crude from Steele City, Nebraska, to Cushing, Oklahoma, regulators said.

Environmentalists have argued that the incidents come with such a pipeline and that they’re not worth the convenience of more direct transportation for fossil fuel in a world coming to terms with global warming caused largely by burning it.

The Sierra Club said it was the 22nd time the pipeline it calls Keystone 1 has been the site of a spill, breach or accident.

‘There is no such thing as a safe tar sands pipeline and this is another disaster that continues to prove we must put our climate and our communities first,’ Catherine Collentine of the Sierra Club said in a statement.”

Oil transported by ship, derrick, train, truck or pipeline will breach at some point. And, the spills usually are disastrous. On the flip side, when an offshore windmill breaches, it causes a different result – a splash. When a solar panel breaches it causes a small outage.

Interestingly, Kansas is one of only two states that gets 40% or more of its energy from wind energy behind Iowa (see second article below). Ironically, the largest wind energy producer by volume in the US is the oil rich state of Texas. And, very quietly, Texas developed infrastructure to harness the electricity from these distributed windmills.

Let me close with the words I heard uttered by oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens on “60 Minutes” about ten years ago before he passed away. He said natural gas will buy us some time, but the future of energy in America is wind energy. It is not a surprise that the windy plains states of America are leading the way.



10 thoughts on “Pipelines breach and it is not rare when they do

    • VJ, I find them to be elegant. I think some folks listen to pseudo news outlets who are marketing a position of the fossil fuel industry. So, they listen to folks like Donald Trump who says they cause cancer. He has never liked them and lost lawsuits in Scotland to prevent them from being developed offshore near his golf courses.

      In Texas, they pay ranchers $5,000 per annum to rent land to place a windmill. One rancher had 11 windmills for a nice income of $55,000 per year. Keith

  1. I agree with you Keith, there is an elegant poetry to them. Off the not so far off coast of North Wales we have a line of them in the distance and they look like some wonderous Science Fiction book cover from the 1960s.
    We meanwhile have similar problems with spills of raw sewage into rivers.

    • Roger, thanks. When we visited Ireland, the landscape was replete with these magnificent structures. The raw sewage spills occur here as well ruining depleting water supplies. Have you read about the cholera and diptheria outbreaks in London in the 1860s? They were able to trace it back to outtake (with sewage) and intake pipes (with new water) being to close together at the Thames. They learned through actual data analysis that these diseases were not airborne as a brewery’s workers were illness free since the drank the potable brew instead of water. Keith

      • Yes those particular outbreaks were the start of the serious attempts to clean up the water.
        If we go back even earlier to the middle ages wine was the common drink as river water was ‘dangerous’.
        Yes that would have been a benefit of working in a brewery. There is an interesting relationship between workers and alcohol outside of the depravations of social drinking.
        In the UK in was common for steel workers when finishing a shift to go to a pub and down a few beers, not feeling any effects as they were simply hydrating after working in appallingly hot conditions.

  2. If all the accidents with oil tankers or holes in pipelines didn’t make people think that game Putin plays finally should. This whole oil matter doesn’t lead anywhere good and rather sooner than later we should start to shift the strategy… actually instantly.

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