The environmental recovery from a “full bore” oil pipeline rupture into the lower Fraser River could take up to five years.
That’s according to a study done as part of Kinder Morgan’s planning for its proposed $5.4-billion
The study examined the environmental impact of a spill of 1.25 million litres of diluted bitumen into the Fraser River just below the Port Mann Bridge.
If the spill occurred from May to July, during high flows on the Fraser, the oil would largely miss nearby environmentally sensitive areas and be carried all the way across the Strait of Georgia to the Gulf Islands as well as sweeping around to Point Roberts, Wash., just south of Tsawwassen, the study predicted.
Most of the oil in a June spill would travel to the river mouth in one day and more would remain on the surface, compared with a spill in winter when river flows are low and more oil would collect on the shoreline.
The study estimates that “the process of restoration and recovery (to pre-spill condition) could take anywhere from 12 months to five years.
Project manager Greg Toth said it would take about 15 minutes to recognize a full-bore rupture had happened and shut down the pipeline.
“With any kind of pipeline there is an element of risk,” he noted. “Any spill is of very significant consequence.”
He noted the risks can be reduced in higher-risk areas such as near the Fraser River through measures such as “heavier-wall pipe,” location of valves to reduce the amount of oil that might spill, and burying the pipe deeper.
“A lot of our focus will be on preventing the spill from occurring.”
(Source: Times Colonist)