Monday, Dec 17, 2012, 1:06 pm
TransCanada Cuts Corners in Protecting U.S. Water Supply from Possible Keystone XL Spills
Inside Climate News reports that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will not include several key safety features that could help protect the critical Ogallala/High Plains aquifer from potential spills, including external sensor cables that would detect smaller leaks. As Lisa Song reports:
The leak detection technology that will be used on the Keystone XL, for instance, is standard for the nation's crude oil pipelines and rarely detects leaks smaller than 1 percent of the pipeline's flow. The Keystone will have a capacity of 29 million gallons per day—so a spill would have to reach 294,000 gallons per day to trigger its leak detection technology. …
Experts interviewed by InsideClimate News estimate it would cost less than $10 million—roughly 0.2 percent of the Keystone's $5.3 billion budget—to add external sensor cables, a concrete cap and extra patrols to the 20 miles of the pipeline in Nebraska where a spill would be most disastrous. The water table in that area lies less than 20 feet below the surface and provides ranchers with a steady supply of fresh water. …
Most environmental groups want the pipeline stopped altogether, primarily because the Canadian crude oil it will carry has a much larger carbon footprint than conventional oil. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has famously called the pipeline a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet."
Anthony Mangini is an editorial intern at In These Times. He holds a master's degree from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor's degree from New York University. He currently resides in Chicago.