Cleaning up a tar sand spill poses special challenges since Dilbit is heavier than water. The heavier components of Dilbit, due to the raw bitumen, will sink.
In the State Department’s analysis of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Keystone XL, the agency admitted that it cannot fully analyze the chemical transported since the Dilbit make-up is considered to be proprietary information. As a result, the EPA has stated that it cannot fully determine the full spill impacts that tar sand crude would have on groundwater.
1.^The Northern Great Plains at Risk: Oil Spill Planning Deficiencies in Keystone Pipeline System, Plains Justice, 2010, p. 7, http://plainsjustice.org/files/Keystone_XL/Keystone%20Pipeline%20Oil%20Spill%20Response%20Planning%20Report%202010-11-23%20FINAL.pdf
2.^Understanding Oil Spills and Oil Spill Response, Environmental Protection Agency, 2009, Chapter 2: Mechanical Containment and Recovery of Oil Following a Spill, http://www.epa.gov/oem/docs/oil/edu/oilspill_book/chap2.pdf