Operating Engineers Local 139: Oil from Canadian oil sands poses no unique threat to pipelines

PEWAUKEE, WI – Crude oil originating from oil sands in Canada does not contain corrosive elements that make it a unique threat to the integrity of pipelines passing through Wisconsin or anywhere else, Operating Engineers Local 139 President/Business Manager Terry McGowan said today.

“Whether plans for pipeline expansion will move forward should not be based on the falsity that oil from Canadian oil sands is any different than other types of oil,” McGowan said. “Surely we can finally put this rumor to rest.”

McGowan noted that in its most recent report to Congress, the Congressional Research Service said, “all oil sands crudes would be considered heavy crudes.” He added, “The Canadian research organization, Alberta Innovates, concluded that compounds found in oil sands crudes, ‘…are too stable to be corrosive and some may even decrease corrosion.’

“While it may undergo a more unconventional method of extraction, crude oil derived from the Canadian oil sands does not possess characteristics that pose a unique threat to pipeline safety,” McGowan said.

In reference to recent pipeline incidents in Grand Marsh, in Adams County, Wis., and in Marshall, Mich., McGowan said, “While there are several questions to be raised following these events, determining the difference between oil sands crude oils and other conventional crudes should not be one of them.”

Operating Engineers Local 139 strongly endorses the expansion of petroleum pipelines throughout the U.S. and Canada such as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The union also supports the ongoing inspection and maintenance of the existing pipeline infrastructure. “This work is vital to the preservation and growth of jobs in the construction industry at a time of continued economic uncertainty,” McGowan said.

Established in 1902, Operating Engineers Local 139 is a statewide Wisconsin trade union that primarily represents skilled Operators of heavy construction equipment and mechanics who service the machines. The union has approximately 9,000 active and retired members and is headquartered in Pewaukee. Local 139 also maintains district offices in Madison, Appleton and Altoona, as well as a state-certified training school for Operating Engineers in Coloma.