From small creeks do mighty rivers flow.

From the Manchester Guardian to the Toronto Globe and Mail, there have been reports of our federal government scientists testing spills of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands. As one source pointed out to me, this was the government laboratory that former prime minister Stephen Harper forgot to shut down. They are still doing their job today.  They just do not realize how much has been done for them.

The researchers are at the Experimental Lake Region near Kenora, Ontario. They are pouring measured amounts of diluted bitumen into a fresh water lake to determine its impact. Everything is measured and contained to enable the researchers to forecast the impact of larger amounts of spilled bitumen.

The most important discovery to-date has been that diluted bitumen floats—for a while. The earlier assumption was that diluted bitumen had a lower density than water and could be easily be scooped from the surface of any water. This was a seriously incorrect assumption.

On the word of Americans in the area of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and Canadians in the area of the North Saskatchewan River in Canada, diluted bitumen floats—for a while—and then sinks to the bottom of the water. In the earlier example in Michigan, the Enbridge people stopped counting the costs of clean-up at a billion U.S. dollars.

The smaller spill in Saskatchewan River was cheaper for the Husky company that owned that pipeline. The problem here was that less news got out about the spill because of the bias of the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments. They prefer to keep quiet about diluted bitumen spills.

But science is relentless and the federal government scientists will eventually get to experiment with water currents and tides and be able to tell us that diluted bitumen is a serious hazard in spills because it will drift or move with the currents until it can no longer float.

It is to be regretted that so much false information is still out there about using pipelines for diluted bitumen. It is not heavy oil.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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