Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Safety Measures for the Keystone XL Rejected by Environmentalists in Nebraska

TransCanada Pipelines has proposed new safety measures for the Sandhills portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The seven new measures outlined by pipeline developer TransCanada Inc. were dismissed by critics of the project as “window dressing.”

TransCanada offered the new safety steps in response to four Nebraska state senators who are concerned that the state's groundwater, including the Ogallala Aquifer, is threatened by the pipeline.

Although they refused to reroute the pipeline, TransCanada said it would encase the pipeline in concrete in areas of high groundwater extending an extra layer of concrete for 35 miles.

TransCanada offered several new steps to address concerns raised by the Nebraska lawmakers about possible contamination of groundwater, including providing a $100 million performance bond to ensure the financial resources to clean up any spills and basing a five-member emergency spill response team. In addition TransCanada proposed providing a concrete barrier around the pumping station and moving response crews closer to the Sandhills.

Pipeline opponents said that most of the safety measures would not prevent a leak. The $100 million bond for cleaning up a Sandhills spill would be inadequate, when compared with the projected $700 million cost of cleaning up a crude-oil pipeline leak that spilled 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River 15 months ago.

Why should we be discussing inadequate safety measures when the best solution would be to preempt the problem altogether by scuttling the Keystone XL pipeline project.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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