Protesters Say Pipelines Are Dangerous. Are They?

“We try not to tell people whether a pipeline is safe or not because safe to one person might be unsafe to another.”

By Leigh Paterson and Jordan Wirfs-BrockNovember 23, 2016 9:36 am, ,

From Inside Energy

Demonstrators protested all around the country in November, in opposition to a controversial crude oil pipeline, with chants like, “We stand with Standing Rock,” and, “Water is life.”

The Standing Rock Sioux, the tribe opposing the Dakota Access pipeline project on the ground in North Dakota, are worried that if there were an accident, the pipeline could contaminate their water.

How serious are pipeline-related risks? Well, for starters, there are around 2.6 million miles of pipelines of varying sizes in the United States, quietly carrying everything from hazardous liquids like crude oil, to refined products like jet fuel, to natural gas. But because there is no one type of pipeline, there is no one type of risk.

According to data from federal regulators, there is actually a low probability of a pipeline accident. But when there is an accident, the impact can be huge. In 2010, a natural gas pipeline exploded near San Francisco International Airport, killing eight.  More recently, in October, a pipeline explosion in Alabama killed one worker, and injured 5 others.

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