The Canadian company looking to build a controversial oil pipeline across Nebraska is downplaying a report critical of the company’s emergency plans.
The 60 page study by Plains Justice, an environmental group opposing TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline, is claiming huge holes in the pipeline’s safety net. The report says the emergency response plan for the XL is “inadequate…unrealistic.” The report specifically notes, “Areas that have suffered through oil spills, such as Alaska and the Gulf Coast, have large amounts of equipment and personnel ready to go. The northern Great Plains does not.”
In a 300 word response emailed to Nebraska Watchdog (see full statement below) TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha-who says he cannot comment directly on the report before analyzing it in depth-notes the company’s emergency plan has been approved by the U. S. Department of Transportation. Cunha says if necessary TransCanada “can shut down the pipeline within minutes.”
The Plains Justice report criticizes TransCanada for among other things failing “to take human error and the complexity of pipeline operations into account.” The report strongly disputes the company’s apparent claim that it would detect a rupture within 10 minutes and shut down the pipeline before another 9 minutes have passed.
Cunha tells Nebraska Watchdog that for security reasons the federal government requires the company to keep details of its emergency plan secret.
Reported by Joe Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Statement from TransCanada:
We are reviewing the findings in the report and it would be inappropriate to comment directly on it until we have had a chance to review and analyze it. However, I would like to highlight that the Keystone emergency response plan has been evaluated and approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the government body charged with ensuring pipeline safety in the United States. In addition, we monitor the pipeline through a high-tech control centre 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We use satellite technology that sends data every five seconds from 16,000 data points to our monitoring centre. If there is a drop in pressure, we can isolate that section immediately and we can close those values, limit the spill volumes and shut down the pipeline within minutes. We have a world-class control centre that has both global and local leak detection systems that allows us to promptly detect a leak of any size. Pumps and motors at any station can be remotely started and stopped.
Each year, billions of gallons of crude oil and petroleum products are safely transported on pipelines. The vast majority of pipeline leaks are small, with most involving less than three barrels, 80 percent of spills involve less than 50 barrels, and less than 0.5 percent of spills total more than 10,000 barrels
In regards to the emergency response plan being public, we are bound to maintain the confidentiality of the plan for reasons including:
- Protect security of the pipeline – We are bound by requirements of Homeland Security to retain the plan’s confidentiality since sharing the plan publicly could make it easier to damage the pipeline.
- Protect sensitive information – The plan also includes information regarding threatened and endangered species, cultural sites, as well as private information about responders that we are bound not to share publicly.