Mike Klink, the whistleblower, has this to say about the Keystone XL: “Let’s be clear—I am an engineer; I am not telling you we shouldn’t build pipelines. We just should not build this one.”
In 2010, Klink was an inspector for Bechtel, a major contractor working on the original Keystone Pipeline, which carried Canadian tar sands crude to US Midwestern refineries. He reported numerous concerns about many instances of shoddy materials and poor craftsmanship on the pipeline and said TransCanda, the company overseeing the development of the project, has a track record of undercutting quality at the expense of the environment.
Tar sands crude oil is a bitumen, an especially heavy from of crude. It needs to be diluted to flow through pipelines, and even then, it’s about the consistency of peanut butter. Tar sands crude consumes an enormous amount of energy and water to mine and process, making it up to 80% more carbon intensive than conventional crude.
NASA climatologist James Hansen calls developing tar sands oil “game over” for the environment.
In January of 2012, Klink published a scathing op-ed in the Lincoln Journal Star, criticizing Keystone XL, the proposed extension of the pipeline he’d inspected in 2010. Keystone XL will bring crude down to refineries in the Gulf Coast. His op-ed reads, in part:
“I oversaw construction at the pump stations that have been such a problem on that line, which has already spilled more than a dozen times. I am coming forward because my kids encouraged me to tell the truth about what was done and covered up.
“What did I see? Cheap foreign steel that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure tests as ‘not too bad,’ shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on completely inappropriate spots like wetlands.
“TransCanada didn’t appear to care. This is why I was not surprised to hear about the big spill in Ludden, ND, where a 60-foot plume of crude spewed tens of thousands of gallons of toxic tar sands oil and fouled neighboring fields.
“TransCanada says that the performance has been OK. Fourteen spills is not so bad. And that the pump stations don’t really count.”
Our nation experienced its first oil sands disaster in July of 2010 when 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude spilled into the Kalamazoo River from a ruptured Keystone pipeline.
Two and a half years and $800,000,000 later, Enbridge Inc, owner of the pipeline, is still trying to clean up its mess.
Source: ThinkProgress, January 3, 2012 Energy Daily, July 10, 2012