At the height of the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline late last month, CityLab was out with a series of maps showing nearly 9,000 “significant” pipeline spills documented by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration since 1986.
California environmental advocate Richard Stover said the incidents had resulted in 548 deaths, 2,576 injuries, and over $8.5 billion in financial damages over 30 years.
“Oil industry supporters argue that pipelines are a safer alternative to hauling fuel by tanker trucks or freight trains,” CityLab notes. “Environmentalists, however, point to a lack of adequate state and federal regulation and the difficulties of maintaining millions of miles of aging pipeline infrastructure in their warnings about the dangers of spills, fires, and other accidents. And data from the federal government suggests such concerns should be taken seriously.”
The maps show the pipeline industry’s footprint accumulating over time, as new accidents are added year by year. “Incidents are particularly common, for example, in Texas and Louisiana, where numerous lines carry oil and gas, extracted on- and offshore, to serve the rest of the country,” CityLab notes.
“The oil industry says this is the safer way, but that doesn’t mean this is safe,” Stover stressed. “Property is damaged. People are killed. There is no way to safely transport fossil fuels.”