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Research Advances on Unconventional Petroleum Hazards and Impacts – A discussion on Lac Mégantic, pipelines and oil spills

28 February, 2018 @ 18 h 00 min - 19 h 00 min


Registration (free) :


Summary of the conference :

Unconventional oil is petroleum extracted using much higher energy-intensive techniques than through the traditional oil-well. It is the case in Canada with bituminous sands or in USA with light oil from the Bakken formation where these crudes are extracted from tight rock or soils. These oils are then transported by pipelines and railways to be sold around the world. Factors including aging of pipeline and rail networks, plus increases in volumes shipped and inadequate tank cars have increased risk for high impact oil spills and catastrophic emergencies. Between 1990 and 2012, 17 605 incidents (leaks, spills) of contaminated soil and water were reported in Alberta. More notably, in Kalamazoo (Michigan), diluted bitumen (Dilbit) from Athabasca flowed into Talmadge Creek (tributary of Kalamazoo River) resulting in the largest and costliest inland oil spill (over $1.2 Billion USD) in USA history. At Lac-Mégantic (Quebec), 72 car tanks derailed and spilled light Bakken oil, causing a series of explosions, flying fireballs and flowing oil on fire. The event resulted in the death of 47 citizens, the destruction of the entire downtown and the contamination of the waters of Lac Mégantic and the Chaudière river. The clean-up costs reached $300M. The aftermath of these major accidents and the numerous pipeline proposals for the transport of Dilbit and Bakken oil, highlight the lack of preparedness of cities and governments to deal with unconventional oil emergencies. This seminar will summarize four years of research work including the analysis of case studies, the advanced characterization of unconventional oil, which is also a factor leading to oil spills, its divergent environmental fate and long-term impacts. These findings will assist municipalities, engineers, health and environmental professionals to better assess hazards and be prepared for emergencies.

Biography of the speaker :

Senator Professor Rosa Galvez is an expert in environmental impact and risk evaluation, contaminated site restoration and groundwater contaminant transport.  She was appointed to the Canadian Senate in December 2016.  She is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Water Engineering at Laval University, Quebec. At the end of her presentation, Senator Galvez will also talk about her activities in the Senate


28 February, 2018
18 h 00 min - 19 h 00 min
Event Category:


McGill University – Trottier Building – Room ENGTR 1090
845 Rue Sherbrooke O
Montreal, Quebec H3A 0G4 Canada
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