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Keystone XL Safety Issues Make the National News

May 19, 2010

An article in The New York Times demonstrates that Canada’s tar sands are not a magic solution to our nation’s oil problems, especially if the U.S. doesn’t take proper safety measures.

From the article:

One big question is whether TransCanada should get waivers to use thinner pipes on Keystone XL than is normally required in the United States.

The Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which oversees oil pipelines, gave such waivers to TransCanada for the first two Keystone pipelines. TransCanada says the thinner pipes have been allowed in Canada for decades and pose no extra risk.

But Cesar de Leon, a former deputy administrator of the pipeline and safety administration who is now an independent pipeline safety engineer, said the thinner standard is appropriate only if pipelines are being aggressively monitored for deterioration. Although the safety administration required such monitoring in the Keystone permits, it “didn’t have the people to monitor compliance,” he said.

In a report in March on the agency’s broader permitting practices, the Transportation Department’s inspector general found that, in many cases, the agency had failed to check the safety records of permit applicants and had not checked to verify that permit terms were being followed.

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