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Posted Tue Feb 22 2011: from Globe and Mail (Canada):
How safe are North America's pipelines?
Now, after months of cleanup work, most of the crude has been scoured from the river and its banks. A U.S. government-mandated repair program, which saw Enbridge use 65 crews to fix 400 locations over the span of several months, is nearly complete. And Enbridge chief executive officer Pat Daniel has in recent weeks promised that things are nearly back to normal. But the spill has raised new questions about the age of the Enbridge pipeline network - the single most important link between Alberta's oil and buyers in the U.S. and Eastern Canada - and about the broader infrastructure of North America's massive system of oil transportation. Much of that system is decades old and built using protective coatings that have been shown to break down over time. Its future performance has important implications for both Canada's energy industry and the economy of the broader country, for which energy is now the single most important export.... "What we're learning is some of that old pipeline doesn't have a 100-year life, even though maybe they hoped it did," he said. "I don't know what the life is. But for sure these old lines are going to have to eventually get replaced. And I think what Enbridge is seeing is just the front end of that."
[Read more stories about: oil issues, toxic leak]

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