Thursday, December 3, 2009

Report says pipelines in Canada’s permafrost at risk from global warming

OTTAWA - Roads, pipelines, buildings and other infrastructure in the Canadian North are not prepared for the stresses of climate change, a report released on Nov. 26 says.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy study of how the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut would fare in a rapidly warming world, paints a stark picture of the challenges facing the Arctic.
"Energy pipelines built over permafrost terrain could be at risk of rupture and leakage if design and maintenance protocols do not account for the potential for permafrost thawing," the report said.
The changes in permafrost, which include sudden shifts in the ground, will make pipeline construction more complicated.
This could have implications for the planned C$16.2 billion, 760 mile Mackenzie Valley pipeline to ship gas from the Arctic to the western province of Alberta.
The main partners in the project include Imperial Oil Ltd, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.
The report goes on to say northern communities, which are often connected to the rest of Canada by a single road or airport, face skyrocketing costs, because as the ground thaws, there will be a "gradual loss of structural integrity" to infrastructure.

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