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TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Springs 21 Leaks in Canada

We American should be alarmed that TransCanada's Keystone oil pipeline suffered twelve reported leaks, in its first year of operation. We can take only twisted comfort in this report that during that time, TransCanada leaked all over its home soil even more:

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has logged 100 different incidents and accidents on federally regulated Canadian oil and gas pipelines over the past two years, new documents released to Postmedia News reveal.

The log entries by investigators are dominated by two Alberta-based companies, Enbridge and TransCanada, which are involved in nearly three quarters of the reported cases, including 21 incidents on the latter's brand new, multibillion-dollar Keystone pipeline, which launched the first phase of its commercial operation in June 2010.

...In one case on the Keystone pipeline, the board noted that crude oil leaked in January from a threaded connection due to vibration at a pump station in Hardisty, Alberta. It was repaired after the "threads were re-taped."

The most recent incidents on the new Keystone line include three cases from early June of leakage at pumping stations in Alberta and Saskatchewan [Mike De Souza, "Exclusive: Feds Recorded 100 Pipeline Spills and Accidents since 2010," Vancouver Sun, 2011.07.05].

Three spills in early June? The Keystone pipeline is getting leakier!

Remember, once upon a time, TransCanada told us to expect "a spill of 50 barrels or less occurring anywhere along the entire pipeline system... once every 65 years." TransCanada told us we could expect spills of any magnitude to come at a rate of 1.4 every 10 years. Along the entire pipeline system, we have now had 33 spills in barely one year.

33 times 10, divided by 1.4... that's over 230 times the predicted spill rate.

230 times: maybe that's how much longer we should extend the review period for TransCanada's permit to build Keystone XL.

Related: The North American-Made Energy Security Act (H.R. 1938), a House Republican effort to force the Obama Administration to speed the environmental review and permitting process for Keystone XL, is before the House Natural Resources Committee. Our Congresswoman Kristi Noem serves on this committee.


  1. LK 2011.07.05

    I believe you have misused a possessive pronoun in the last sentence. Didn't you mean to say "TransCanada's Congresswoman . . . " or "Their Congresswoman. . . . ."?

  2. Stan Gibilisco 2011.07.06

    "In one case on the Keystone pipeline, the board noted that crude oil leaked in January from a threaded connection due to vibration at a pump station in Hardisty, Alberta. It was repaired after the “threads were re-taped."

    I wonder if they meant "re-tapped." See:

    Big difference in literal terms. Bigger difference in interpretation and innuendo.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.07.06

    Good point, Stan! At first, I read taped and assumed it was something like putting plumber's tape in the threads. Your comment reminded me that we're talking about fittings that broke due to the mechanical vibration pushing a couple hundred gallons of heavy oil per second, not the water running through copper to my faucet.

  4. Dan 2011.07.06

    I really hope they continue the Pipeline work and I will do all I can to support it.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.07.06

    Hey, Dan! Does that include prioritizing the eminent domain claims of a foreign corporation over the land rights of local South Dakota landowners who prefer not to have 900,000 barrels of oil rushing under their property every day?

  6. george mjhg 2011.07.20

    anybody that thinks its ok for a foriegn company or the united states to take your land or rights to it should use your second amendments rights.did they even offer to pay for the right to run pipe under their property?georgia did away with eminent domain in the state. i pray nobody ever trys to take my land or anything thats not theirs for the not a violet person,but i can be when it comes to what is mine!

  7. James Degnan 2011.10.16

    Unfortunately the US property rights only apply to surface soil. I do not remember to what depth, but once you dig deep enough you enter what is labeled as "Governmental Domain". I believe that TransCanada is planning on burying their pipeline below this depth. Therefore the only rights land owners truely have is to deny digging rights on their property.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.10.16

    Pipeline depth: 4 feet. People dig basements deeper than that.

    James, even if this "governmental domain" concept has any application here, an argument about digging rights still has the same practical effect: unless TransCanada planned to use horizontal drilling along the entire pipeline route, TransCanada still has to either buy or seize through the courts our property. They also are using eminent domain to seize perpetual right of way to access and service the pipeline. So it's more than the physical disruption; TransCanada is seizing the right to permanently trespass on and thus deny us use of our land.

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