Aging pipeline is worrisome

BY STEVE HILL, BURNABY NOW MARCH 8, 2013

Dear Editor:

I would like to express my concerns with the existing Kinder Morgan oil pipeline. Every pipeline has a service life.

In other words, they do not operate safely forever.

The existing line was installed approximately 60 years ago. Materials and installation specifications were very different compared to today’s standards. The coating on this line is probably coal tar enamel and is susceptible to disbonding over time. This exposes the steel which is exposed to moisture, chlorides, etc., and corrosion is inevitable.

By the way, coal tar enamel contains asbestos. Steel pipe in the ground will corrode despite cathodic protection.

C.S.A. and Oil and Gas Commission standards require regular testing to determine the integrity of buried pipelines. External corrosion can be identified by close interval surveys, current mapping and most importantly, external corrosion direct assessment, which is recommended by the National Association of Corrosion Engineers.

Oil pipelines are susceptible to internal corrosion. Regulations require assessment of the integrity of the inside of the pipe which requires the insertion of a device called a “pig” that detects internal corrosion, dents, metal thickness and other anomalies. New pipelines have devices called line breaks, which shut down a line if there is a drop in pressure, not the case with the Inlet Drive leak.

Do you think that Kinder Morgan has done their due diligence in testing? Because enforcement of regulations in Canada is almost nonexistent. In defence of the commission, they are badly understaffed.

In short, the existing pipeline should be abandoned. Again, every pipeline has a service life. How long does Kinder Morgan expect this line to operate safely? Rust never sleeps.

Steve Hill, Burnaby

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