After an investigation into reports of “metal loss” failures of up to 97% on TransCanada’s Keystone 1 pipeline, U.S. pipeline safety regulator PHMSA issued a Civil Penalty and Compliance Order against TransCanada dated Nov. 20, imposing a fine of $187,200 and a compliance order that mandates additional protections and monitoring requirements against future inadequate cathodic protection and corrosion control on its pipelines.
TransCanada’s Keystone 1 pipeline is a precursor to the Keystone XL that began operation in June 2010, and whose route also crosses Nebraska. Keystone 1 leaked 12 times during its first year of operation, and is projected to leak 91 times during its lifetime.
“It is highly unusual for a pipeline not yet two years old to experience such deep corrosion issues,” Evan Vokes, a former TransCanada pipeline engineer-turned-whistleblower, told DeSmogBlog. “Something very severe happened that the public needs to know about.
Essentially, the PHMSA investigation concluded that electrical currents from nearby pipelines and infrastructure accelerated corrosion on the steel of Keystone 1, leaving it one-third the thickness of a dime in one area.
PHMSA also announced in May that it was investigating violations on the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline (since rebranded the “Market Link” or “Cushing Marketlink” pipeline), where faulty welds were discovered and the company dug up sections of pipe like the one labeled “JUNK” in the photo above.