Keystone Pipeline Safety Questioned

PIPELINE, OIL, KEYSTONE, TRANSCANADA, NEBRASKA, XL, SPILL, TAR SANDS, PLAINS, LINCOLN, CRUDE, CANADA, ENVIRONMENTAL, ROUTE, ENERGY, LANDOWNERS, PIPELINES, SPILLS, HEALTH, BARRELS, GALLONS, ALBERTA, LEAK, OGALLALA AQUIFER, RIVER, SAND HILLS, CANADIAN, PIPE, PRAIRIE, OBAMA, FARMERS, ENBRIDGE, OGALLALA, EMERGENCY, ROUTES, SANDHILLS, PIERRE, ATTORNEYS, AGRICULTURE, PLAINSMAN, OILSANDS, HUSKER, GROUNDWATER, RUPTURE, NEBRASKANS, WATER, DRINKING WATER

————————————————————————————————————

Area unprepared in case of Keystone spill, Vermillion public-interest group contends. A lack of resources on the northern Great Plains has left TransCanada unprepared to deal with a major spill on its Keystone pipeline system, according to a new report by a Vermillion public-interest group. The 60-page report from Plains Justice says that TransCanada overstates its ability to respond to a pipeline rupture. “Areas that have experienced major oil spills, such as Alaska and the Gulf Coast, have large amounts of equipment and personnel ready on the ground,” the report states. “The Northern Great Plains does not.” The Keystone pipeline is part of a $5.2 billion project to move crude oil from Canada to refineries in the south-central U.S. The project is seen by supporters as key way step toward reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, but detractors say that a spill could have disastrous results in South Dakota and other states it crosses. TransCanada maintains three caches of spill-response equipment at sites around the state. Beyond that, it relies on contractors such as the National Response Corp. of Great River, N.Y., to supply additional equipment and personnel. National Response Corp. President Steve Candito said he is unable to detail how much of his company’s equipment is in South Dakota. Employees with more specific knowledge of the Keystone project had left for the day. “We’ve been working very closely with Trans-Canada to position resources there,” he said. Lawyer Paul Blackburn, who wrote the report for Dakota Rural Action, said speed is essential in responding to a spill. There’s no doubt Trans-Canada eventually could gather the resources to mop up a spill, he said, but by then the oil would have spread disastrously. It’s like having your house burn down, then having the fire department arrive to put out the ashes, he said. TransCanada cites safety approval TransCanada disputes the report’s findings. “We believe we are building a very safe and efficient pipeline, and that we have the appropriate manpower and equipment to respond to an emergency,” spokesman Terry Cunha said. He added that TransCanada’s plan has been approved by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The Keystone pipeline’s safety system is monitored 24 hours a day with satellite technology. It has 16,000 data points with hundreds of control points so operators can kill the flow “in minutes,” Cunha said. “We are doing a lot of things to ensure that the system is the safest on the market,” he said. Response scenarios mislead, report says The Plains Justice report alleges a number of shortcomings with TransCanada’s Facility Response Plan, a federally mandated contingency plan that Dakota Rural Action obtained through a freedom of information request – after it was approved. Among the report’s charges: # TransCanada’s response time and spill estimates are not worst-case scenarios, as required by law. For example, it lists a shutoff time of 19 minutes after a spill, well within the range of normal operations. But this is unreasonably optimistic, Blackburn said. “Worst means, what happens if people makemistakes, or equipment fails, or things go wrong.” # The company failed to designate the Missouri River crossing at Yankton as a high-volume area – one in which spill containment equipment must arrive within six hours of a spill rather than 12. (The U.S. Geological Service designates the crossing as “high-flow.”) This is important, Blackburn said, because the worst-case spill location on the Keystone pipeline is in Yankton County: In six hours, oil from a spill there could be in Sioux City, Iowa. # TransCanada used a Coast Guard contracting database to establish equipment availability, but “the Coast Guard’s jurisdiction ends essentially in Sioux City,” Blackburn said. And because the database is voluntary, it’s not comprehensive. # Blackburn’s analysis of the database indicates that there are not enough contractors with spill-response equipment within federally mandated response times. “The NRC claims it has Coast Guard classification for North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Montana, but there’s almost no equipment registered with the Coast Guard in the Great Plains,” Blackburn said. # The federal agency responsible for approving emergency response plans, PHMSA, lacks clear guidelines for regulating safety plan and essentially allows oil companies to adopt their own standards. The regional PHMSA office deferred comment to its national office, which did not return messages. Other than approving TransCanada’s initial emergency-response application, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources required only that the company simulate a spill on the Missouri River crossing in Yankton, which it did in September. The company called in contractors and put out booms on the swiftest parts of the river. “It was done well,” said DENR hydrology specialist Brian Walsh. “Our experience with (TransCanada), and with their ability to respond, has been appropriate.” Awaiting approval of State Department As long as there isn’t a spill, the simulation and the initial application are the extent of DENR’s oversight of Keystone. After that, it’s up to PHMSA. “The federal agencies are in charge of the actual pipeline, all its requirements,” said Bill Markley, administrator of the DENR’s groundwater quality program. “If there’s a leak, that’s when the state gets involved.” TransCanada is waiting for the State Department to approve the environmental impact statement for its proposed Keystone XL line, which would cross Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska on its way to Gulf Coast refineries. The decision is expected early next year, after which there will be a 90-day public comment period. ((30 NOV 2010))

http://www.argusleader.com/article/20101130/NEWS/11300313/1001/rss01

————————————————————————————————————-

1
http://topics.pe.com/article/0fiybYY9hee77?q=Canada

2
http://journalstar.com/news/local/article_efd6b104-855f-526c-b272-79b875595642.html

3
http://madvilletimes.blogspot.com/2010/07/transcanada-keystone-springs-two-leaks.html

4
http://madvilletimes.blogspot.com/2010/09/transcanada-keystone-pipeline-springs.html

5
http://www.omaha.com/article/20101124/NEWS01/711239862/169

6
http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local/article_0e772c4c-d87f-11df-ba82-001cc4c002e0.html

7
http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/news/article_f3ed8c97-74b0-59ee-bfb8-4cbd1a5d565a.html

8
http://shipping.einnews.com/news/keystone-pipeline

====================================================================================

1
https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/senator-mike-johanns-look-at-other-pipe-routes/

2
https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/keystone-xl-pipeline-approval-delayed/

3
https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/nebraska-landowners-along-the-pipeline-route-attending-a-series-of-meetings/

4
https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/push-for-tar-sands-pipeline-sparks-fierce-hill-debate/

====================================================================================


GO TO FRONT PAGE

Advertisements

About this entry