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Of the active crude oil transportation modes in the Great Lakes, tanker trucks move the lowest total volume. Because of their limited storage capacity and the high risk of accident, trucks are rarely used to transport oil long distances. Despite this, trucks do offer the greatest flexibility in terms of potential destinations, so they are most often used to transport crude oil short distances between terminals and refineries that cannot be accessed by pipeline. Trucks are far more likely to be used for transporting refined petroleum products, rather than crude oil.

Where does oil transport by truck happen in the Great Lakes?

The most common use of trucks to transport crude oil is from transportation terminals to refineries for processing. The map below shows active crude oil refineries in the Great Lakes region, petroleum terminals where crude oil is transported by truck, and connecting state/interstate highways. Data sources: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Transportation


What are the benefits of oil transport by truck?

  • Most flexible transportation mode in terms of possible destinations
  • Allows for short-term transport between extraction sites/refineries and other transportation modes
  • Low volume of spills

What are potential drawbacks of oil transport by truck?

  • Highest incident rate of all transportation modes
  • Low storage capacity is economically inefficient for long-term transport
  • Infrastructure shared with the general public increases incident rates and risk to human health

What causes spills to occur?

  • En route collisions
  • Poorly maintained infrastructure
  • Loading, unloading and inter-modal transfer errors


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