TransCanada Inspector: Keystone XL Pipeline Not Safe
January 09, 2012, 10:01am

By Mike Klink,
03 January 12
There has been a lot of talk about the safety of the proposed Keystone
XL pipeline.I am not an environmentalist, but as a civil engineer and
an inspector for TransCanada during the construction of the first
Keystone pipeline, I’ve had an uncomfortable front-row seat to the
disaster that Keystone XL could bring about all along its
pathway.Despite its boosters’ advertising, this project is not about
jobs or energy security. It is about money. And whenever my former
employer Bechtel, working on behalf of TransCanada, had to choose
between safety and saving money, they chose to save money.As an
inspector, my job was to monitor the construction of the first Keystone
pipeline. I oversaw construction at the pump stations that have been
such a problem on that line, which has already spilled more than a
dozen times. I am coming forward because my kids encouraged me to tell
the truth about what was done and covered up.When I last raised
concerns about corners being cut, I lost my job – but people along the
Keystone XL pathway have a lot more to lose if this project moves
forward with the same shoddy work.What did I see? Cheap foreign steel
that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump
stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged
safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure
tests as “not too bad,” shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are
essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on
completely inappropriate spots like wetlands.I shared these concerns
with my bosses, who communicated them to the bigwigs at TransCanada,
but nothing changed. TransCanada didn’t appear to care. That is why I
was not surprised to hear about the big spill in Ludden, N.D., where a
60-foot plume of crude spewed tens of thousands of gallons of toxic tar
sands oil and fouled neighboring fields.TransCanada says that the
performance has been OK. Fourteen spills is not so bad. And that the
pump stations don’t really count. That is all bunk. This thing
shouldn’t be leaking like a sieve in its first year – what do you think
happens decades from now after moving billions of barrels of the most
corrosive oil on the planet?Let’s be clear – I am an engineer; I am not
telling you we shouldn’t build pipelines. We just should not build this
one.Pipelines can and do stand the test of time, but TransCanada
already has shown that they cannot. After working on engineering
projects all over the world, I can tell you that a company that cared
about safety would not follow these types of practices.If it were a
car, the first Keystone would be a lemon. And it would be far worse to
double down on a proven loser with Keystone XL.The stories of how
TransCanada has bullied landowners in Nebraska rings true to me. I am
living it, as well. After repeatedly telling the contractor and
TransCanada about my concerns, I lost my job.But I couldn’t watch
silently as a company put innocent people at risk with a haphazardly
built pipeline. I am speaking out on behalf of my children and your
children.Oil spills are no joke. We need to do all we can to protect
our water and our food. I am glad the Nebraska Legislature stepped up
to protect Nebraskans. I can only hope that they stand up to
TransCanada. We should all take a hard look at the damage that this
pipeline will do. I should know; I’ve seen it in person.Please do not
sell out to foreign oil and foreign suppliers. There is no guarantee
the product will stay in the United States, only the toxic waste. God
bless the United States and those of us who still believe in the fact
that her people matter.