U.S. Not Ready for Keystone XL Worst-Case
Are giant Canadian oil companies fudging their safety analyses to get the mother of all pipelines built across the U.S.? And what could happen if a mega-pipeline has a catastrophic Fukushima-style disaster?
Pipelines have been spilling regularly across
the U.S., but those spills could be small peanuts compared to a true
disaster that might occur from building the proposed and highly
controversial tar sludge pipeline known as Keystone XL.
A report released today and spearheaded by a Nebraska academic
says the potential frequency and magnitude of oil spills from the tar
sands oil project, as well as the consequences of worst-case spills into
the Yellowstone, Missouri and Platte Rivers and atop the Ogallala
Aquifer, are far worse than the Canadians are letting on to U.S.
regulators tasked with approving the dubious project.
According to a news story from the Lincoln Journal Star:
A worst-case scenario spill from the proposed Keystone
XL pipeline into the Platte River in Nebraska would form a plume of oil
that could extend more than 450 miles, contaminating drinking water
for people as far away as Kansas City, MO and threatening wildlife
habitat, according to an independent analysis of the project released
The study by John Stansbury, a professor of water resources
engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, also said a
worst-case spill in the Sand Hills region of Nebraska could pollute 4.9
billion gallons of groundwater with a plume of contaminants 40 feet
thick, 500 feet wide and 15 miles long.
“This plume, and other contaminant plumes from the spill, would pose
serious health risks to people using that groundwater for drinking water
and irrigation,” Stansbury said in the report.
In comparison to the nasty 42,000 gallon spill by Exxon last week into Montana’s Yellowstone River, a major spill from the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline into the Platte River in Nebraska could leak 5.9 million gallons of toxic, corrosive tar sands oil
and spread pollutants such as carcinogenic benzene in excess of federal
health standards hundreds of miles downstream, contaminating drinking
water for hundreds of thousands of people as far south as Kansas City,
Can we trust the oil giants and regulators to do the right thing? Not really, says the author.
He led an independent analysis of worst-case spill scenarios for four
locations along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route through
Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. He found
that the pipeline’s operator, TransCanada Corp., made significant flawed and inappropriate assumptions about the frequency and severity of expected spills from its pipelines.
Although the federal Clean Water Act requires pipeline builders to
analyze and make public worst-case spill scenarios and resulting
environmental impacts for their projects before beginning operation,
TransCanada has yet to adequately do so for the Keystone XL, and the
pipeline could be approved before regulators see the conclusions.
We’re not kidding when we say Keystone XL is the next great oil disaster in waiting, on par with BP’s Gulf spill last year. But this is a tragedy we can stop. You can help. TAKE ACTION and tell the Obama Administration to reject Keystone XL.
Continue reading at blog.nwf.org.