Letters to the Editor

Enbridge OK says former pipeline worker

To the editor:

By now most readers must know that people who are against pipelines know nothing about what they are talking about or writing about.

Did they ever work for a pipeline?

Did they ever sail on a cruise ship making sharp turns on the inside passage? Maybe.

Have they ever been a crew member on a merchant freighter passing through Maracaibo Lake in Venezuela and pass by the many pumps pumping the oil to shore-based batteries?

I was on a Dutch merchant freighter and never saw any oil leaks.

I worked for 14 years for South Saskatchewan Pipeline (SSPL): The first year as an oiler to increase my knowledge of the English language, the second year as a pump station operator.

During that time I never heard of any oil spills anywhere.

Our crude oil went from Cantuar in southwest Saskatchewan to Moose Jaw and then to Regina where it was taken over by Interprovincial Pipeline. The oil was heated and the pressure increased because of the cooling of it in the pipeline. A small plane checked for leaks several times a week between Cantuar and Regina.

I am one of many people who knows anything about the feeling and smell of crude oil.

My job as an oiler was checking two, 80,000 barrel tanks and the quality of oil by checking for the amount of sediment and water in it.

While I was busy at my job, I was interrupted by the newly appointed foreman who told me to take large nuts off bolts which held the flange down on the packing of the plunger pump as the packing had to be renewed. When I got the nuts off the bolts I was suddenly blown off the six-foot high pump by a blast of 1,200 lb pressure crude oil—soaked from top to bottom with crude oil.

Luckily I did not hurt myself when I landed on the floor which had been beautifully shiny before this happened.

The oil blew all over and made a terrible mess.

The foreman simply forgot to close the valve to the mainline and also did not drain the pump itself.

When I was given an order by the chief engineer when I was a merchant marine engineer I never asked questions, simply because he was my boss. This time I made a big mistake by not asking questions. (The foreman asked his superior to fire him but they gave him another chance to do his job.)

When I was hired by SSPL I was the only one of 10 people who worked at the pump station who had worked before with large diesel engines on the ship. I had sailed on other ships which had steam and triple expansion engines.

Now Enbridge is building a pipeline through a totally different landscape than the prairies, yet even though it is a more difficult terrain I am not against it.

The company explains that it will have much better monitoring than when I worked for SSPL which means many more places where pressures and flow of the crude oil are measured—not to forget one or more times a day being flown over by planes or helicopters. Also hiring the most qualified employees to do the job of regulating pumping equipment.

T. Pyper, Kelowna

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