How to Kill the Spill
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  • Identifying a problem is not a binary issue. It’s not a matter of sending a pig down a line and getting back a binary value of OK or not OK. There are also judgment calls to be made, which is what happened with the Enbridge spill near where I live.

    Also, the frequency of spills is not the only metric to use. There is also the issue of how bad the damage is when there is a spill. A railroad tank car can spill only so much.

    The damage could be limited in pipelines if more shutoff valves were required. But if more shutoff valves were added, would the economics still favor pipelines?

    • Andrew Allison

      Identifying a problem (as opposed to proposing a solution) typically consists of a binary decision, namely, is it broken or not?

      Presumably, pigs deliver enough bacon (sorry, it was irresistible!) in the form of problem anticipation to justify their cost. In other words, they are part of the maintenance tool kit.

      The problem in this specific case is that (I’m truly sorry!) flying the pig just might have spotted the problem.

      • As I understand it, in the case of our Enbridge pipeline, the pig flew and spotted cracks, which were then deemed not to require action.

        • Andrew Allison

          Even worse, since the red flag was ignored! One might speculate why, but the (binary) fact is that they saw a potential problem and decided not to act [grin].

  • Boritz

    The knee-jerk green reaction—to stop shipping oil by pipeline—has driven the opposition to the Keystone XL -VM
    Exactly. What is called for is the same calm and positive faith that sustains a belief in global warming with ten years of no warming.
    Applied in the same way to piplelines, ten years of pipeline disasters (and the recent GW data is a disaster for some) would lead to nary a conclusion that pipelines should be abandoned.

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