posted on Jul, 31 2010 @ 06:09 PM
Good grief... If you folks knew how many miles of pipeline bisect the North American continent and how old some of them are you would be posting all
kinds of hand wringing.
I would be very surprised if the leak wasn't identified by their SCADA Center within an hour or less of it occuring. A line the size of that one is
monitored 24/7. Once a leak develops shut-in is initiated. You can't instantaneously stop the flow if a leak is discovered. If you do pressures in
the line will surge (due to the momentum of the fluid in the line) and catastrophic failure would be possible. The line will have automated block
valves at strategic locations that will be closed once the flow rate is ramped down to zero. Even so, the line will have pressure between the block
valves and continued leakage is going to occur. At least until the pressure declines to zero.
There are all kinds of things that corrode pipelines. Most are unseen. Some can be determined by the use of "smart pigs" but the smart pig operation
cannot be performed during normal operations. If I remember right they are required to run a smart pig once every 5 years (might be 10). Corrosion can
come from internal sources (like organisms that eat oil and then excrete a substance that is corrosive to steel) or external (galvanic corrosion).
Pipelines that were laid in 1914 are still in service. The alternative (which isn't even viable) would be to truck every barrel. That would decrease
safety and increase the potential for environmental disaster by orders of magnitude.
[edit on 7/31/2010 by Mike6158]