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Secrecy Makes Nebraska Landowners Nervous About Keystone Pipeline Replacement

I’m not the only one who’s suspicious of Big Oil. In response to concerns that TransCanada’s substandard steel may have leaked oil in Nebraska as its shoddy welding did in South Dakota, Bold Nebraska is giving landowners along the Keystone pipeline route jars for collecting soil and water samples.

The sense of unease… stems from what they see as a lack of oversight and lack of information as TransCanada Corp. digs up and replaces sections of its Keystone pipeline.

“I’d kind of be an idiot not to be concerned,” said Russ Gubbels, who was one of about 25 people who attended a meeting organized by Bold Nebraska and held at the Red Road Herbs Retreat & Learning Center near Stanton [Nicholas Bergin, “TransCanada Replacing Parts of Keystone Pipeline; Bold Nebraska Cautions Landowners,” Lincoln Journal Star, 2016.07.20].

Citizens might fret less if TransCanada and the government would just be open with their information:

“Our fear is slow leaks have been happening and they know that and that is why they have been doing these replacements … We feel there should be some level of accountability of TransCanada,” said [Bold Nebraska leader Jane] Kleeb, one of the foremost grassroots organizers who opposed TransCanada’s failed Keystone XL, the final phase of its Keystone pipeline network.

…PHMSA has had inspectors at Keystone excavation sites, Pickett said, but their reports are not made public. Kleeb said Bold Nebraska plans to file Freedom of Information Act requests demanding those reports [Bergin, 2016.07.20].

The Republican Party’s new platform says that the abandoned Keystone XL pipeline proposal “has become a symbol of everything wrong with the current Administration’s ideological approach” [pp. 19–20]. Yet the existing Keystone pipeline that runs under eastern South Dakota and Nebraska symbolizes everything that is wrong with the Republican ideological approach that puts Big Oil profits over landowner rights and environmental protection.


  1. Paul Seamans 2016-07-20 10:21

    I was at the meeting east of Stanton NE. The phmsa representative explained that hydrostatic testing using water is done before the pipeline is put into service. The hydrostatic testing is done at 125% to 150% of maximum operating pressure (mop). Standard pressure on the Keystone is 72% of MOP, which is 1440 psi. This would make MOP equal to 2000 psi. 150% of MOP would be 3000 psi.

    TransCanada had up to 18 months to check for anomalies caused by hydrostatic testing. The K1 was put into service in July of 2010. Add 18 months to that would mean that by the end of 2011 TransCanada should have known about the bulges in areas of the pipe caused by the 3000 psi testing.

    Why is TC waiting until now to start digging up these sections of pipe shown by pigging to need replacement? Was the Freeman spill site shown by pigging to be defective? Could this spill have been avoided if phmsa and TransCanada had been doing their job?

  2. Paul Seamans 2016-07-20 10:25

    Did the South Dakota PUC know about these sections of bulging pipe caused by hydrostatic testing? If not then why not? Is the PUC being lax in protecting its citizens or are they more concerned about protecting TransCanada?

  3. mike from iowa 2016-07-20 12:18

    Good luck getting answers, Mr Seamans.
    I’d like to see the contractual secrecy segments that doesn’t give the public, or landowners, the right to know.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-07-20 15:02

    Paul, did those bulges happen mid-pipe or at the welds?

  5. Paul Seamans 2016-07-20 17:21

    Cory, that I don’t know. Probably anywhere as the sections of pipe that need replaced are reported to be ten to forty feet in length.

    I think that we have two different things in play here. phmsa requiring TransCanada to dig up spots where there are girth welds similar to the Freeman spill. And TransCanada replacing sections of pipe that pigging revealed to have bulges in them. TransCanada may have known about these bulges as long ago as the end of 2011.

  6. barry freed 2016-07-21 07:33

    Don’t suppose NAFTA gives us any power to us a FOIA in Canada.

    Better than jars, are there containers used by Medical Examiners to collect fluids? Something that is a one time use so it can’t be tampered with? Samples should be collected, while videotaping, before the pipe moves product, yielding a baseline.

  7. Cathy 2016-07-23 14:09

    Back hoes and porta johns are sprouting in the cornfields of Yankton and Hutchinson counties. The old staging area in Yankton is back in operation with a mountain of cribbing. Just how much digging are they going to do, I wonder?

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