TransCanada’s Keystone I pipeline has been shut down due to mechanical issues. There is no word yet on the nature or the extent of the problems, but this is yet another sign of a badly constructed pipeline built by a company focused on saving money over safety. TransCanada’s abysmal operating history with Keystone I should serve as a clear warning as the Obama Administration considers the company’s proposal to build an even larger tar sands pipeline, Keystone XL, through the nation’s richest source of groundwater in Nebraska’s Sandhills.
Let’s remember, TransCanada claimed that the Keystone I pipeline system would be one that would “meet or exceed world-class safety and environmental standards” and leak an average of 1.4 times a decade. In just its first year of operation, Keystone leaked fourteen times, a hundred times more leaks that TransCanada predicted. On its Canadian side, the pipeline has leaked at least twenty-one times.
The safety issues on Keystone I are consistent with the story of Mike Klink, a former TransCanada quality control inspector who worked on that pipeline. During his time with TransCanada, Mr. Klink reported systematic shortcuts that were taken in the construction of Keystone I which compromised its safety – including the use of inferior materials, haphazard methods and faked safety tests.
The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be built and operated by the same company -TransCanada. That company has argued that it has no other choice but to build the pipeline through the heart of America’s largest aquifer because any other route would cost more. We’ve seen plenty of examples of what happens when a company that values saving money over safety is permitted to put sensitive resources at risk. Do we need another with Keystone XL?