Public Information on Oil Pipelines Hard To Find in Canada

Pipeline safety: Canada lags U.S. on making data public – Canada – CBC News.

This is important and relates to making what is essentially public data maintained by government open to the public:


“I was kind of shocked how little there is available in Canada,” says Carl Weimer, executive director of Pipeline Safety Trust in Bellingham, Wash., a non-profit group focused on improving pipeline safety.”

Over at the NEB, the head of business operations, Patrick Smythe, acknowledges that its information may not always be available online.

“But if anyone wants any information on any Canadian pipeline that we regulate they can come to us and ask us for that information and we’ll provide it,” he said.

In Canada, general maps are available from individual pipeline companies, but there is no comprehensive one showing all the systems and their exact locations.

The difference in the U.S. is that any member of the public can go online and view maps of pipelines accurate to about 150 metres right across the country.

The National Pipeline Mapping System allows citizens to search by operator, pipeline name or even the status of the pipeline, whether it’s in service or abandoned.

These data, these maps, are important. They not only make it possible (and not just easier) to identify and track leaks and other problems, and how they may affect local (and downstream) residents (and the environment), but they also give a sense of the actual cost of piping the oil. Actual cost includes the overall cost of the pipe and its fluids to the communities through which the pipes go, as well as those claimed by the relevant companies. So, in Canada:

The data that the CBC collected for our searchable map suggests that the rate of pipeline incidents has doubled, from one to two incidents for every 1,000 kilometres, between 2000 and 2011.

It was difficult to do much analysis with the data set since some reports were incomplete or had inconsistent information.

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