Spills of Diluted Bitumen
A Comparative Study of
Environmental Fate, Effects, and Response
Committee on the Effects of Diluted Bitumen on the Environment
Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology
Division on Earth and Life Studies
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This activity was supported by Contract No. DTPH5614C00001 with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-38010-2
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-38010-3
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015959867
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Copyright 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Spills of Diluted Bitumen from Pipelines: A Comparative Study of Environmental Fate, Effects, and Response. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Credit: John W. Poole/NPR
An oil sheen appears along the shore of the Kalamazoo River in August 2012. In July 2010, more than 800,000 gallons of tar sands oil entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 30 miles downstream.
Credit: Jacqueline Michel
Sorbents and booms deployed in Dawson Cove in response to a crude oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas in April 2013. In March 2013, over 3,000 barrels of crude oil spilled from a rupture in the Pegasus pipeline spilling oil in a residential neighborhood and eventually into a heavily wooded cove.
Credit: Douglas Friedman
Oil spill response workers shuttling oiled debris from the beach below. In May 2015, an estimated 100,000 gallons of heavy crude oil discharged from Plains All American pipeline 901 near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California.
On November 26, 2004, the single-hulled tanker Athos I unknowingly struck a large anchor submerged in the Delaware River while preparing to dock at a refinery just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The impact punctured the tanker’s hull, and it began leaking more than 263,000 gallons of heavy oil into the tidal waters of this busy East Coast shipping route.
A worker in protective gear power-washes the oily rocks while boom in background collects oil five months after the spill occurred.
Credit: Jonathon Gruenke
Jeremy Blackford of Clean Harbors uses a suction hose to clean oil from atop the Kalamazoo River in a containment area in Augusta, a village in Kalamazoo County in Michigan.
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COMMITTEE ON THE EFFECTS OF
DILUTED BITUMEN ON THE ENVIRONMENT:
A COMPARATIVE STUDY
DIANE MCKNIGHT (Chair), University of Colorado Boulder
MICHEL BOUFADEL, New Jersey Institute of Technology
MERV FINGAS, Independent Consultant
STEPHEN K. HAMILTON, Michigan State University
ORVILLE HARRIS, O.B. Harris, LLC
JOHN M. HAYES, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Ret.)
JACQUELINE MICHEL, Research Planning, Inc.
CARYS L. MITCHELMORE, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
DENISE REED, The Water Institute of the Gulf
ROBERT SUSSMAN, Sussman and Associates
DAVID VALENTINE, University of California, Santa Barbara
DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN, Study Director
CAMLY TRAN, Associate Program Officer
CARL-GUSTAV ANDERSON, Research Associate
COTILYA BROWN, Senior Program Assistant
NAWINA MATSHONA, Senior Program Assistant
BOARD ON CHEMICAL SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY
DAVID BEM (Co-Chair), PPG Industries
DAVID WALT (Co-Chair), Tufts University
HÉCTOR D. ABRUÑA, Cornell University
JOEL C. BARRISH, Bristol-Myers Squibb
MARK A. BARTEAU, University of Michigan
JOAN BRENNECKE, University of Notre Dame
MICHELLE V. BUCHANAN, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
DAVID W. CHRISTIANSON, University of Pennsylvania
JENNIFER S. CURTIS, University of California, Davis
RICHARD EISENBERG, University of Rochester
SAMUEL H. GELLMAN, University of Wisconsin-Madison
SHARON C. GLOTZER, University of Michigan
MIRIAM E. JOHN, Sandia National Laboratories (Ret.)
FRANCES S. LIGLER, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University
SANDER G. MILLS, Merck Research Laboratories (Ret.)
JOSEPH B. POWELL, Shell, Houston
PETER J. ROSSKY, Rice University
TIMOTHY SWAGER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
TERESA FRYBERGER, Director
DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN, Senior Program Officer
KATHRYN HUGHES, Senior Program Officer
CAMLY TRAN, Associate Program Officer
CARL-GUSTAV ANDERSON, Research Associate
ELIZABETH FINKELMAN, Program Coordinator
COTILYA BROWN, Senior Program Assistant
NAWINA MATSHONA, Senior Program Assistant
“I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of ‘emergency’ is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
November 14, 1957
The transport of crude oil through transmission pipelines in the U.S. has been essential to move crude oil from production fields to refineries for many decades, and has thus been an integral aspect of the U.S. energy infrastructure. Starting with the impact of the large crude oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, in 1969, the inherent environmental risks associated with the transport of crude oil became more widely recognized. This spill contributed to the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the creation of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Several changes in the governmental approach to environmental policy would follow, eventually leading to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. Through the resulting legislation of 1990 and Executive Order 12777, as amended, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) assumed responsibility to oversee the safe transport of crude oil in transmission pipelines, including thorough reviews of response plans and other actions.
Now, 25 years after OPA 90 was passed, a shift in the distribution of
the types of crude oil carried in transmission pipelines has occurred and is anticipated to continue. Dense and viscous bitumen extracted using new technology from sources primarily in northern Alberta, Canada, is being diluted with less viscous hydrocarbons and transported to refineries throughout North America via transmission pipelines. This shift, along with a major spill of diluted bitumen in Marshall, Michigan, in 2010 and other spills elsewhere, has prompted Congress and USDOT to ask the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to consider the use of transmission pipelines to transport diluted bitumen. The Academies’ first study, released in 2013, focused on whether diluted bitumen was more likely to cause pipeline spills when compared to commonly transported crude oils. That study found no evidence of any causes of pipeline failure that are unique to the transportation of diluted bitumen. In this follow-on study, our committee was charged with addressing the question of whether the transport of diluted bitumen in pipelines has potential environmental consequences that are sufficiently different from those of commonly transported crude oils to warrant changes in regulations governing spill response planning, preparedness, and cleanup.
The committee brought together diverse expertise on the chemistry and environmental impacts of crude oils and broad experience in spill response. Two members, including the study chair, have backgrounds in hydrology and environmental engineering. We had members with expertise in oil chemistry, geochemistry and biogeochemistry, and oil fate, behavior, and toxicity. Several of these scientists have been, and continue to be, actively involved in oil spill response activities. Beyond the scientific and engineering expertise, experts in pipeline operations and environmental regulations ensured that the committee considered the practical and policy aspects of our recommendations.
In May 2015, while this study was still in its information-gathering phase, a rupture in Plains All American Line 901 spilled over 100,000 gallons of a heavy crude oil in Santa Barbara County, California and impacted almost 100 miles of shoreline. In addition to the two members of our committee who participated directly in the spill response as experts, we were able to observe the highly organized incident command in action four days after the spill. We discussed active response strategies with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Scientific Support Coordinator, the Liaison from the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CalOSPR), and several key members of the response team. A focus of these discussions was on the practical uses of formal response plans and on the daily decision-making process. As stated in President Eisenhower’s famous quote, it was clear that the preparation of response plans was an invaluable process that has improved the effectiveness of response.
The focus of this report and its recommendations is on the current concerns related to the transport of diluted bitumen in pipelines. We are confident that, by updating the planning process and taking greater advantage of available information about diluted bitumen when it is spilled, the effectiveness of spill response can be enhanced. However, given the nature of pipeline operations, response planning, and the oil industry, it is likely that our recommendations will be applicable to spill response, preparedness, and cleanup for many types of crude oil.
Diane McKnight, Chair
Douglas Friedman, Study Director
The completion of this study would have not been successful without the assistance of many individuals and organizations. The committee would especially like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their contributions during this study:
U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which sponsored the study and provided valuable information on the agency’s responsibilities and structure. The committee would especially like to thank the Associate Administrator, Jeffrey Wiese, as well as Eddie Murphy, David Lehman, and Robert Smith. Mr. Smith served as the agency’s liaison to the committee and was effective in responding to the committee’s requests for information and site visits.
U.S. Coast Guard for providing information on the agency’s regulatory responsibilities and technical information on the topic area. The committee would particularly like to thank Captain Claudia Gelzer, Captain Joseph Loring, Lt. Brandon Aten, and Lt. Sara Thompson.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which provided information regarding the agency’s regulatory responsibilities and experiences involved with oil spill response. The committee would like to thank Ralph Dollhopf, who served as an informal liaison to the committee; as well as Mark Howard, Greg Powell, Chris Ruhl, and Brian Schlieger.
Speakers and invited participants at the committee’s data-gathering meetings. These individuals are listed here: Andy Black, Association
of Oil Pipe Lines; Anthony Swift, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Bruce Hollebone, Environment Canada; Chris Reddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dan Capone, Mannik & Smith Group; David Westerholm, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Faith Fitzpatrick, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Gary Shigenaka, NOAA; Heather Dettman, Natural Resources Canada; John Zhou, Alberta Innovates; Ken Lee, Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER); Liam Stone, Government of Canada; Lyman Young; Paul Connors, Government of Canada; Peter Hodson, Queens University; Peter Lidiak, American Petroleum Institute (API); Robin Rorick, API; Steve Larter, University of Calgary; Steve Lehmann, NOAA; Thomas King, COOGER; Tim Nedwed, ExxonMobil; and Tom Miesner, Pipeline Knowledge and Development.
Jordan Stout, NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator, and Joy Lavin-Jones, Liaison Officer for California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CalOSPR), for hosting a subgroup of the committee to observe the spill response operations for the Santa Barbara, California spill on May 19, 2015.
And last, but certainly not least, the Academies staff for organizing and facilitating this study. Study Director Douglas Friedman and Associate Program Officer Camly Tran organized the committee meetings and assisted the committee with research, report writing, and review. Senior Program Assistants Nawina Matshona and Cotilya Brown managed logistics of the meetings and publication. Senior Program Assistant Claire Ballweg and Communications Associate Sharon Martin contributed to the design of the figures and tables.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Mark Barteau, University of Michigan
Jim Elliott, T&T Marine Salvage, Inc.
Abbas Firoozabadi, Reservoir Engineering Research Institute
Katherine H. Freeman, The Pennsylvania State University
Elliott P. Laws, Crowell & Moring
Ken Lee, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
Patricia Maurice, University of Notre Dame
Stephen A. Owens, Squire Patton Boggs
Chris Reddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Calvin H. Ward, Rice University
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the con-
clusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Thomas Leschine of the University of Washington and Michael Ladisch of Purdue University, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
|ACP||Area Contingency Plan|
|ADIOS||Automated Data Inquiry for Oil Spills|
|AOPL||Association of Oil Pipe Lines|
|API||American Petroleum Institute|
|AWB||Access Western Blend|
|BSEE||Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement|
|BTEX||benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes|
|CalOSPR||California Office of Spill Prevention and Response|
|CERCLA||Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act|
|CLWB||Cold Lake Winter Blend|
|COOGER||Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research|
|DSD||droplet size distribution|
|FRP||Facility Response Plan|
|GNOME||General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment|
|ICCOPR||Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research|
|MCL||maximum contaminant level|
|NAPL||non-aqueous-phase liquid oil|
|NAS||National Academy of Sciences|
|NCP||National Contingency Plan|
|NEB||National Energy Board|
|NEPA||National Environmental Policy Act|
|NOAA||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|
|NOSAMS||National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry|
|NRC||National Research Council|
|NRDA||Natural Resource Damage Assessment|
|NRDC||Natural Resources Defense Council|
|NRT||National Response Team|
|OPA 90||Oil Pollution Act of 1990|
|OSHA||Occupational Safety and Health Administration|
|OSPR||Office of Spill Prevention and Response|
|OSRO||Oil Spill Removal Organization|
|PAH||polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon|
|PHMSA||Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration|
|RRT||Regional Response Team|
|SDWA||Safe Drinking Water Act|
|SDS||Safety Data Sheet|
|TPH||Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons|
|USCG||U.S. Coast Guard|
|USDOT||U.S. Department of Transportation|
|USEPA||U.S. Environmental Protection Agency|
|USGS||U.S. Geological Survey|
|VOC||volatile organic compound|