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New Report: Analysis of Frequency and Worst Case Spills for TransCanada Pipeline

Ever wondered what the worst case scenario would be for the Ogallala Aquifer or Platte River if the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline gets approved?

A professor from the University of Nebraska, Dr. John Stansbury wrote a new report answering that question titled: “Analysis of Frequency, Magnitude and Consequence of Worst-Case spills from the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline” 

The report confirms one thing–Nebraskans can not take TransCanada at their word.  While TransCanada is busy assuring elected officials that everything is fine and will be fine, Nebraska scientists and water experts are issuing warning signs over and over again.  The report gives black and white evidence to county officials, state officials and federal officials that this pipeline is not ready to be laid because there are too many unanswered questions and safety risks.

Read full report, download PDF

Read executive summary and key findings, download PDF

Some of the highlights we hope every elected official is taking note of:

-While TransCanada estimates that the Keystone XL will have 11 significant spills (more than 50 barrels of crude oil) over 50 years, a more realistic assessment is 91 significant spills over the pipeline’s operational lifetime. (its also worth noting that their first pipeline had 12 spills already in 12 months)

-A major spill from the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on the Platte River in Nebraska could spill 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, Mo. 

-Worst-case spill in the Sandhills would result in more than 7.9 million gallons spilt in the Nebraska Sandhills above the Ogallala Aquifer.

-Even a small, undetected leak from an underground rupture of the pipeline in the Nebraska Sandhills could pollute almost 5 billion gallons of groundwater with benzene at concentrations exceeding safe drinking water levels – enough water to form a plume 15 miles long, posing serious health threats to anyone using the underlying Ogallala Aquifer for drinking water or agriculture. 

-A worst-case spill at the pipeline’s crossing of the Missouri or Yellowstone Rivers in Montana could spill well over 5 million gallons of tar sands oil, contaminating drinking and recreational water in North Dakota with harmful levels of benzene and other chemicals (to put that in perspective, the spill on the Yellowstone this past weekend was 42,000 gallons of oil and we have all witnessed the major damage that amount has caused)  

-Shutdown of the pipeline when a leak/spill occurs could take 10 times longer than the 11 minutes TransCanada is stating. 

-TransCanada assumed, without supporting data, that Keystone XL will be constructed so well that it will have only half as many spills as existing pipelines, even though the tar sands crude to be transported through the pipeline is more likely to leak than the conventional crude in other pipelines (tarsands oil pipelines have 16 times more safety incidents due to corrosive nature, much more so than traditional crude oil). 

Tell us what you think in the comments section below…what were the key findings that stood out for you in the report?

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