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article imageThree major oil spills in just one week

By Anne Sewell     Apr 8, 2013 in Environment
Last Friday, Shell Pipeline shut down their West Columbia Texas pipeline after it was found that 700 barrels had been lost, which amounts to almost 30,000 gallons of crude oil. A train derailed in Canada, and then there was that Mayflower, AR incident.
In the third accident of its kind in just one week, Shell Pipeline, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc had to shut down its pipeline after electronic calculations by the US National Response Center showed the missing oil.
On Monday last week Shell spokesmen said that inspectors had found "no evidence" of an oil leak. However, only days later it was revealed by representatives of the US Coast Guard that roughly 50 barrels of oil had spilled from a pipe near Houston. This oil had then entered a waterway that connects to the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Steven Lehman, Shell dispatched clean-up crews that were working to correct any damage to Vince Bayou, which is a small waterway running for less than 20 miles from around the Houston area through a shipping channel and into the Gulf.
Lehman told Dow Jones that the spill was contained, but was hesitant to offer an official number of how much crude was actually lost in the accident.
Kim Windon, a Shell spokeswoman said that the damage could have been quite significant. She received an estimate saying that as much as 700 barrels were found to have leaked from the pipeline due to an "unknown cause." Reportedly 60 barrels entered the bayou.
Officer Lehman did tell Dow Jones, "That's a very early estimate - things can change."
While all this was going on, rescue works in Arkansas continued on the rupture in ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline late last week, which spewed thousands of barrels of oil into the small town of Mayflower. 20 homes had to be evacuated in the incident and by Thursday last week, around 19,000 barrels had been recovered.
There was also a further incident in Canada this week. An estimated 400 barrels, or approximately 16,800 gallons, of oil were spilled when a train derailed in northern Ontario. Originally Canadian Pacific Railway had said that only four barrels were lost in the incident.
When crews first arrived at the remote site of the derailment near White River, Ontario, they thought it was only four barrels. However, CP Rail spokesman Ed Greenberg said, "During the clean-up yesterday our crews discovered the second derailed car containing oil had in fact lost product."
"The second car was difficult to assess due to its position among the derailed equipment but showed no signs of the product around its base during the initial assessments."
The track was expected to re-open later on Thursday and Greenberg said the spill had been contained and no oil has been found beyond its containment berms.
However, this incident raised concerns concerns about the environmental impact of rail shipments.
Keith Stewart, spokesman for Greenpeace Canada, said, "I think rail is now going to face the same kind of scrutiny that pipelines have come under."
"Rail used to be pretty inconsequential in terms of moving oil, but we've seen rapid growth in the last three years and they're projecting massive growth. I think the industry has rose-colored glasses on if they think that they can ramp up moving oil by rail, the way they're talking about, without running into big opposition."
More about USA, Canada, Oil, Spills, Leak
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