Old oil pipelines in Canada vulnerable

June 12, 2012 at 8:16 AM

EDMONTON, Alberta, June 12 (UPI) -- Procedures for boring oil pipelines under rivers and streams in Canada may have left them vulnerable to the elements, officials said after an Alberta spill.

The Rangeland oil pipeline was reported by operator Plains Midstream Canada to have ruptured under the flooded Red Deer River in Alberta. Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail reported that as much as 3,000 barrels of oil may have spilled from the pipeline, which wasn't in service at the time of the incident.

Built in 1966, the Rangeland pipeline wasn't necessarily built to last, those in the industry told the newspaper.

Barry Singleton, a vice president at pipeline designer Singleton Associated Engineering Ltd., told said most older pipelines weren't buried very deep.

"There were concerns back in the day," he was quoted as saying.

River scouring caused by a flooded Yellowstone River was suspected of contributing to the rupture of the Silvertip oil pipeline in Montana in 2011. An estimated 1,200 barrels spilled from the pipeline.

Plains officials said about 1 mile of containment boom was deployed to handle the spill, noting high flow rates through the Red Deer River meant most of the spill was isolated to a downstream location.

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