One more spill reinforces reasons not to build XL Pipeline
Fortunately, only three of the cars leaked spilled oil, and that was more or less contained by the snow covered sidings, but the results could have been far worse.
The simple truth is that mankind can never control anything to the extent we'd wish possible. No organization in history has tried to exercise more conscientiousness, contingency planning or impeccable execution than the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and despite a massive budget and myopic oversight they still managed to produce the Apollo 13 disaster.
The Space Shuttle program also showed us we can control an awful lot of things, but we can't control every little thing as much as we wish we could.
It’s truly remarkable we actually managed to propel humans to and from the moon successfully, though the voyage was far from uneventful.
Another federal agency charged with such conscientious oversight was the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the very same folks who brought us Three Mile Island with their impeccable expertise. It's a wonder that mishap didn't rank right up with Chernobyl.
It’s what common folk refer to as the law of unintended consequences, meaning actions may or may not produce the intended results, but even in the best of cases, there are unforeseen consequences seldom anticipated.
Science has identified this principle as one of the immutable laws of physics. It seems if you throw a ball at the floor with the same force, trajectory and speed over and over, it will repeatedly hit the same spot on a nearby wall. However, if this is repeated enough time, it will eventually do something entirely different and unpredictable. This is referred to as Chaos.
Apparently the train left the tracks due to a mechanical failure – a loss of air pressure triggered emergency braking systems – a safeguard no doubt installed to prevent accidents of one type or another.
It would only be fitting to the ironic nature of the world we live in if the spill was caused by a system present specifically to prevent spills.
Fortunately no one was hurt in the accident and work crews were quickly able to control the spill thanks to snows absorbent properties.
An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 gallons leaked onto the ground, according to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Dan Olson. Thanks to the snow, it is believed the oil has not contaminated the local water supply, despite one car that dumped close to 26,000 gallons of oil on the ground.
They won’t be sure any environmental damage was done until morning, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed. Nevertheless, what does this say about building a pipeline for Canadian Oil across the Ogallala Aquifer?
So do you really want to build a pipeline that will have no effect on gas prices, endanger the water, wildlife and agricultural heartland of America, just to help a Canadian energy company grow wealthier?
We hope the thought gives you pause.
Source: CBS News
Image: Derailed Tanker cars in Iraq circa 2010. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.