An interesting commentary by civil engineer Mike Klink in our local paper today. It’s about TransCanada, the company proposing to build the Keystone XL pipeline across Nebraska.
Klink shared his concerns from his days working on the first Keystone pipeline project. Klink, who lives in Auburn, Ind., is now seeking whistleblower protection from the U.S. Department of Labor. Said Klink:
“Despite its boosters’ advertising, this project is not about jobs or energy security. It is about money. And whenever my former employer Bechtel, working on behalf of TransCanada, had to choose between safety and saving money, they chose to save money.”
Klink explained that as an inspector, his job was to monitor construction of the first Keystone pipeline. He oversaw construction at the problematic pump stations on the original pipeline, that have already spilled more than a dozen times.
Tell the truth
Klink said he is speaking out because his children encouraged him to tell the truth about what was done and what covered up.
“When I last raised concerns about corners being cut, I lost my job,” said Klink. “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.”
Klink said he shared his concerns with his bosses, who communicated them to officials with TransCanada, but nothing changed.
“TransCanada didn’t appear to care. That is why I was not surprised to hear about the big spill in Ludden, N.D., where a 60-foot plume of crude spewed tens of thousands of gallons of toxic tar sands oil and fouled neighboring fields,” Klink said.
If Klink’s experiences are true, it’s disconcerting to read about the reaction Klink got when he reported to Bechtel and TransCanada his concerns about poor materials, faulty workmanship, and “fudged” safety tests on the first Keystone pipeline.
Motives for the XL pipeline? The article said the volume of fuel exports is rising as the U.S. uses less fuel because of a weak economy and more efficient cars and trucks. That allows refiners to sell more fuel to rapidly growing economies in Latin America, for example.
The domestic downside to America’s growing role as a fuel exporter?- Experts say the trend helps explain why U.S. motorists are paying more for gasoline. The more fuel that’s sent overseas, the less of a supply cushion there is at home.
Gasoline supplies are being exported to the highest bidder, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. “It’s a world market,” he says.
Refining companies won’t say how much they make by selling fuel overseas.
According to the A.P. article, analysts say those sales are likely generating higher profits per gallon than they would have generated in the U.S. Otherwise, they wouldn’t occur.
Unless the oil companies, refiners and Keystone can promise that every drop of the tar sands oil piped from Alberta to Texas is dedicated for domestic use, to give America energy security and keep consumer gas prices low, isn’t it fair to ask why the pipeline should exist at all?