Oil Spill Off The Coast of California
On Tuesday, a pipeline ruptured in California causing oil to leak several hours before it was discovered. Covering 4 miles of beaches, an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil leaked into the Pacific ocean and surrounding coastline. Apparently, the oil reached the ocean through a drain which has now been blocked off, and “no additional oil is reaching the water.” (Discovery News) Although the cleanup is currently underway there is still no way of telling what sort of environmental impact this will have on the coastline and the marine life.
Oil pipelines are usually considered to be safer than other forms of transporting oil, such as tankers – and our need for oil doesn’t seem to be going away soon. Meaning, that transportation of oil safely throughout our regions is of extreme priority. The pipe, installed in 1991 by Plains All American Pipeline was recently inspected 2 weeks ago, although the results of the inspection did not come back in time for any maintenance to be completed. You (like I was) may be thinking – how does this happen, how often are these pipes inspected, and what sort of regulations surround the pipeline industry? Although the regulations vary by country, you can learn more about the regulation on the Department of Transportation website, who monitors and enforces proper maintenance and inspections of oil pipelines in the United States.
Our ROVs are frequently used to inspect internal storm water pipes, and the external integrity of pipelines submerged underwater. Ensuring the integrity of the pipes is a difficult task, especially when filled with oil. In the industry, these pipelines can be inspected with ROVs, crawlers or with what are called “pigs“. No matter how they are inspected, this unfortunate event brings to mind again how important it is to complete regular inspections and proactive maintenance of any pipelines (especially when they’re near water).