TransCanada Digging up and Replacing Keystone Pipe in SD & Four Other States

It appears that wet weather has delayed TransCanada’s plan to dig up more sections of its leaky Keystone pipeline southeast of Menno. But what’s that sitting on the pipeline route south of 290th Street?

Photo of temporary marker on TransCanada Keystone pipeline route, taken from 290th St, southeast of Menno, South Dakota, 2016.05.14.
Photo of temporary marker on TransCanada Keystone pipeline route, taken from 290th St, southeast of Menno, South Dakota, 2016.05.14.

That’s no model rocket launch pad sitting just south of that TransCanada sign…

Photo of temporary marker on TransCanada Keystone pipeline route, taken from 290th St, southeast of Menno, South Dakota, 2016.05.14.
Photo of temporary marker on TransCanada Keystone pipeline route, taken from 290th St, southeast of Menno, South Dakota, 2016.05.14.

…that’s a marker with “HOLE” spray-painted on it. The yellow flags appear to mark the Keystone pipeline route.

This marker, apparently Lee Herrboldt’s land southeast of Menno, may not be the only place in South Dakota where TransCanada will be digging. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that TransCanada plans to dig up and replace chunks of the Keystone pipeline all this year and into next because the steel they laid can’t handle full pressure:

TransCanada Corp. plans to dig up and replace sections of its Keystone pipeline found to not meet federal strength standards so the company can begin pumping oil at higher pressure.

Work, slated to begin this month and extend through 2017, will happen in Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri [Nicholas Bergin, “TransCanada to Replace Sections of Keystone,” Lincoln Journal Star, 2016.05.15].

Plains Justice reported back in June 2010 that TransCanada ordered 47% of the steel for Keystone from Welspun, the Indian company that provided lots of defective steel for other pipelines. TransCanada has had to dig up other sections of the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota as well as pieces of the XL pipe laid in Texas. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration found alarming levels of corrosion in Keystone after just two years of operation. The feds also found that more than half of TransCanada’s welds on that Oklahoma-Texas pipe needed repair.

Due to TransCanada’s sloppy work, landowners who thought the pipeline would be a one-time inconvenience are now seeing their land torn up by TransCanada contractors again, just seven years after the pipe was laid.

24 Responses to TransCanada Digging up and Replacing Keystone Pipe in SD & Four Other States

  1. Paul Seamans

    If TransCanada knows where these sections need to be replaced this tells me that phmsa had tagged these sections before the pipe was ever covered up. PHMSA is notoriously short on staff because of lack of federal funding. How many spots went undetected by phmsa and are just waiting to leak?

    TransCanada claims that they are replacing these sections so that they will be able to increase the pressure. The standard operating pressure for this type of pipeline is 72% of maximum operating. TransCanada will petition phmsa to operate at 80% of MOP. This will increase pressure from 1440 psi to 1600psi. Leaks will be a lot easier to spot under the higher pressures. Thar she blows.

  2. mike from iowa

    Trash-Can sounds like my late ex-FIL when it came time to fix fence. Never time to do it right,but, always time to do it over.

    Who were the willfully negligent state officials who allowed this cluster to be built with cheapo steel?

  3. mike from iowa

    Any official word from the gutless wonders in Pierre about another fine mess they made for their state?

  4. Paul Seamans

    The PUC is responsible for granting the pipeline permits. They could have required an independent engineering company be onsite at all times to oversee construction. They failed to do this. The PUC was willing to rely on TransCanada’s word that everything is okay. These shoddily built pipelines are squarely on the backs of the PUC.

  5. What about the safety of the pipe that runs under the Missouri River?

  6. Wow, I’m sooo surprised!!!! NOT!!!!

  7. mike from iowa

    What threshold needs be crossed to get a reaction out of the Goobernor,the AG, or someone with a brain and a pulse in Pierre?

    If I wasn’t sure this is actually happening, I might think this was a bad re-run of the Dallas tv series. And Dallas had its own Krebs.

  8. Paul, do any of the 57 conditions in the PUC’s pipeline construction permit still apply? I assume TransCanada is still required to restore the land in repair areas to original useful condition. I hope the easements pay landowners for the ongoing loss of productivity and not just the original loss. Anyone who expected the pipeline meant one dig and done and who now sees the diggers coming back must be immensely frustrated.

  9. Lanny V Stricherz

    When TransCanada goes bankrupt, who funds the cleanup of any or I should say all of the environmental degradation that they have done and which was the cause for them to go bankrupt? I don’t ever remember anything in the run up to Keystone I suggesting such a fund.

  10. What could possibly go wrong?

    TransCanada buys key material from a problematic vendor. It’s employees and contractors produce substandard welds and build substandard pipelines that corrode within 2 years.

    BTW, What happened to all those jobs for South Dakotans?

  11. mike from iowa

    Dil-bit is considered synthetic oil,not crude,therefore according to gubmint genuises it is not taxable for the superfund cleanup tax. Another gift to big awl.

  12. Paul Seamans

    Cory, the PUC Conditions apply for the life on the pipeline. The PUC has the power to shut down the pipeline if TransCanada is not following all of the conditions.

    I myself wondered what happens during a spill. TransCanada has a 50 foot permanent easement. What if a landowner says to TransCanada, “you cannot go outside of that 50 feet”, and what happens when the oil goes outside that easement? Can the landowner refuse to let them dig up soil outside that 50 feet? At the Freeman spill TransCanada is definitely outside the permanent easement.

  13. Paul Seamans

    If TransCanada continues to dig up and replace defective sections of pipe should the PUC commissioners tell TransCanada to just shut the pipeline down until they can prove that TransCanada has the problems fixed? Over 40% of the pipe is Welspun pipe from, I believe, India. I think that part of the problems stems from this pipe.

  14. Charlie Richardson

    Our esteemed senior senator is “fiddling while South Dakota burns”. Thune doesn’t have time to call for an investigation into the substandard materials used or shoddy workmanship performed during construction of the original Keystone pipeline. He’s too busy worrying about what Mark Zuckerburg and friends are posting on Facebook. Priorities you know. Thune is all in favor of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines because they’ll be great for the economy, accountability be damned.

  15. Small states are incapable of environmental stewardship.
    Expect to read within a year or 3 of the elevated contaminants in the Missouri River and its fish. Perhaps these elevated levels will impact the fishing industry. Those who drink the water in Mobridge and Pierre should be very concerned. Perhaps they can sue ND using novel theories of the Interstate Commerce or Clean Water Acts.

  16. Paul Seamans

    John, I totally agree with you. North Dakota already has advisories about the mercury in fish that has come about because of all the coal that is burned in their power plants. Mercury in the atmosphere comes into their lakes through rainfall.

  17. Lanny V Stricherz

    South Dakota does also, Paul. When we were working to defeat the Big Stone II power plant, South Dakota Peace and Jusice with Jeanne Koster leading and South Dakota Clean Water Action with Mary Jo Stueve leading, worked very hard to defeat that power plant, (which incidentally also led to the defeat of the coal burner that was planned at Selby) based on the amount of mercury that the original Big Stone power plant was/is putting into the fish in NE South Dakota.

    Bitter Lake which is due west of the Big Stone coal burner has the highest mercury rating in the State. I cleaned the most beautiful colored perch I had ever seen from Bitter and had to throw over half of them away because of the orange proud flesh that they contained.

  18. Lanny V Stricherz

    I might add that their efforts did not get the Big Stone II power plant defeated at the State level, but the Minnesota PUC did defeat it, partially on their efforts and in spite of Steve Kolbeck, the Democrat from South Dakota’s PUC, for whom I campaigned in 2006, who testified before the Minnesota PUC in favor of the Big Stone II. So you see, some Democrats only pretend to be liberal or progressive.

  19. Paul Seamans

    Lanny, thanks for that information, and your work to protect water. Cory must be listening because within a few minutes he posts an article on mercury in our water.

    I guess that we need to add mercury to threats to our water. That on top of uranium (in situ mining, deep boreholes, shallow boreholes, old mines), pipeline leaks, fertilizer and chemical runoff, cattle and people manure, CAFO’s. Did I miss anything? Gov Daugaard, are you listening?

  20. Lanny V Stricherz

    Paul, when I was at the Keystone XL protest just before the PUC hearings in Pierre last summer, a Native American lady told of 6 sites besides the one at Edgemont, trying to get PUC approval for uranium mining, all on the reservations, and the fact that the cancer rates from previous uranium mining and non cleanup are through the roof on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud.

    A man who farmed between Veblen and New Effington who also attended the rally told of testing his well and I cannot remember the exact number but it was something like 25,000 ppm of animal feces in his well water. The contamination coming from the Veblen 17,000 head dairy farm, CAFO.

  21. Valerie harrison

    Frightening. If they were so stupid to have transported oil thru drastically substandard pipes they should not be allowed to operate at all.

  22. Lanny, my understanding is that if Keystone goes bankrupt, we’re left holding the bag, much like with mines n the Black Hills. The possibility that the company could disappear motivated some Democratic bills for stiffer bonding requirements and pipeline taxes. The Republicans shot those proposals down, of course.

  23. Paul Seamans

    If AG Marty Jackley is looking for something to do he should become part of a push to get TransCanada to pay the eight cents per barrel fee into the federal oil spill liability trust fund. He did mention that one benefit of building the Keystone XL would be the taxes that they would pay. Let’s see to it that they start paying this tax that they have been avoiding.

  24. mike from iowa

    Ever get the feeling Trash-Canada used cheaper steel just to spite environmentally concerned peoples? Why the hell has the wingnut administration not had a word to say about this? Did they sell South Dakota to Trash-Canada?