During the last six years alone over 3,300 incidents of crude oil and liquefied natural gas leaks or ruptures have occurred on U.S. pipelines alone, not including any North or South of the US border. As a result 80 people have been killed, 389 more injured, and cost $2.8 billion in damages. They also released toxic, polluting chemicals in local soil, waterways, and air. Over 1,000 of these incidents involved crude oil in which spills and ruptures released over 7 million gallons. Leaks ranged from a few gallons to hundreds of thousands of gallons. One of the largest spills happened in 2013 in North Dakota when lightning struck a pipeline, which leaked over 840,000 gallons of crude onto fast disappearing farmland.
Much of this crude originates in the oil fields of Texas and North Dakota, but accidents frequently occur with pipelines that just transport crude oil through states to refineries. This means states not directly involved in fracking still face substantial risks to public safety and the environment from crude transport. Additionally, about 50% of crude oil pipelines are more than half a century old, which increases the chance of corrosion and failure significantly. Furthermore, there are less than 140 federal pipeline inspectors responsible for over 2.6 million miles of pipeline leaving some sections of pipeline uninspected for years. Lightning and earthquakes can also cause ruptures to happen. Additional funding for inspections would be an important step, however, completely avoiding these accidents requires us shift our focus renewable energy sources.
A thousand pipeline ruptures or spills reported nationwide in the past five years.
Use the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) Public Viewer to view gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipeline accidents and incidents going back to 2002 for the entire US.
AS plans for the Keystone XL pipeline faltered over the last six months, its route through a pristine aquifer in Nebraska proved to be its fatal political flaw. Environmental groups had raised numerous other serious objections: Building the pipeline would lead to a rise in climate changing gases; its environmental review was tainted by conflicts of interest; extracting oil from Canadian oil sands was destroying precious ecosystems and boreal forest. Read more…
The sheer number of incidents involving America’s fossil fuel infrastructure suggests environmental concerns should go beyond Standing Rock. Read more…