The mayor of Sarnia, Mike Bradley, has the common sense and took the time to understand that pipelines are a safer alternative to rail cars or tanker for moving the product needed to power our economy. Mr. Bradley voiced his displeasure at the US politicians who talk about improving pipeline safety but get little of value done. “Pipelines win as the lowest risk!”, he said.

As the pressure builds on North America's pipeline industry, including a new bill in the U.S. Congress raising the possibility of shutting down a line supplying Chemical Valley, Sarnia's mayor is asking, “What's the alternative?”

Candice Miller, a Michigan member of the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced a bill recently calling for an 18-month federal study of Enbridge's Line 5, a pipeline built in 1953 to carry Western Canadian oil to refineries in Sarnia.

Line 5 crosses the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and environmental groups, and others in Michigan have been questioning its safety in recent years.That comes at a time when pipeline projects across the U.S. and Canada face strong opposition. Miller's bill calls for the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to shut down Line 5 if the study finds it poses a significant risk.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said years of watching U.S. politicians has taught him, “they're just great at introducing bills . . . It's more for show.”
Dozens of bills die in Congress each week, Bradley said, “but they can say, “I introduced the bill.'”

Sarnia and neighbouring St. Clair Township are home to Chemical Valley, a major petrochemical, manufacturing, and refining centre fed by oil and gas pipelines, including Enbridge's Line 5 and 6.

Bradley said Sarnia has been working through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to press for more accountability by pipeline operators, but he added the alternative to pipelines is to have more oil moving by rail and ships.

“From my point of view, pipelines win,” Bradley said.“If you look at the general record over the last couple of decades on pipelines, it has been a safe industry for us, and, I think we need to get that message across.”

Recently, Bradley wrote to the premier of Alberta offering Sarnia's support for the province's efforts to get new pipelines approved. “It's our source of how we receive the materials that employ people here,” he said.

There have been issues with pipelines locally, including a 2013 rupture during which spilled diesel fuel reached the St. Clair River, but Bradley said, “ If you look at the overall safety record in this community, it's a low-level risk.”

Enbridge spokesperson Graham White said in an e-mail the company “would not speculate on proposed government legislation” but added Line 5 is “a vital piece of Michigan and Ontario energy infrastructure.” He said the pipeline “was built to meet extraordinary design and construction standards and the Line 5 Straits of Mackinac crossing remains in excellent condition.”

The pipeline has never leaked in more than 60 years of operation, White said. “It is one of the most inspected lengths of pipe in our entire network and our ongoing monitoring and analysis reveal the pipe to be in good shape or we would not continue operating it,” he said.

Michigan formed a task force that delivered a list of recommendations to the state last year. It was created in the wake of a 2010 spill of 843,000 gallons of oil sands crude into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River from a rupture in Enbridge's Line 6B pipeline. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was one of the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history.

Miller said in a press release she realizes her bill may be considered too drastic and costly a move by many, but added she believes the price of inaction will be higher. “I understand that we need energy, and Canada is the largest foreign energy supplier to Michigan and the U.S., but it is imperative that both countries do everything within their power to ensure we are transporting these products in a way that does not threaten our Great Lakes,” she said.

Source: Sarnia Observer

Categories: Industry news

By: Atmos International
Date: 15 April 2019