Independent Guestatorial: Pipelines leak, why build more?


Loyalty to the Nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when deserved. – Mark Twain

In 2010, the U.S. approved the 3,000-mile TransCanada Keystone pipeline system, Connecting Alberta, Canada, Cushing, Oklahoma, Patoka, Illinois, and the Gulf Coast, with a combined capacity of 1.3 million barrels per day of highly toxic diluted bitumen (dilbit).

To increase the capacity of the system, TransCanada requested approval for an additional line traversing Nebraska. The Mayflower, Arkansas, dilbit spill and the devastating impact of Alberta tar sands strip mining, exposed the ecological destruction. President Barack Obama denied Keystone XL approval in 2015. An impulsive, uninformed 2017 Executive Order awoke the zombie line.

Bulk, high-pressure crude pipelines are high-risk, complex systems. High-pressure pump stations are used to transport dilbit, a high viscosity fluid. Leaks are unavoidable. One defective weld or one corroded pipe in a 3,000-mile pipeline is all it takes to create a leak. Evidence shows all lines leak, and go undetected 80 percent of the time. Crude oil spills are nearly impossible to clean, and most damages are irreversible. Why build more?

Learning by experimentation

Sometimes you just have to try things out. Find a gallon of used cooking oil and an open area in your home. Remove the cap and let the oil drop from about 6 ft., and leave it for a week. Use a timer and find how long it takes to clean up the mess. If you don’t slip and fall, you should be safe. ExxonMobil used paper towels; baby diapers are a good alternative.

Houston, we have a problem

Four years ago, life stopped in Mayflower, Arkansas. Most people were unaware a 20-in. dilbit pipeline moving 66,000 barrels per day, was buried in residential neighborhoods. The spill was a thick, black, smelly, mix of highly toxic chemicals. Houston ExxonMobil Control Center was unaware and the catastrophic leak was undetected. ExxonMobil tried to hide dilbit in the woods, and some ended up in storage. Mayflower became a no-fly zone. Money was paid to hide the truth.

Keystone XL

Dysfunction, a new book by Dennis McConaghy, a TransCanada senior executive, describes the dark side of XL: Alberta has the worst fossil fuels, TransCanada is aware of the climate emergency and the impact on First Nations’ quality of life. Oil, water, and fish don’t mix. TransCanada chooses to ignore First Nation’s health and way of life, and threatens life on Earth. TransCanada wants to export fossil fuels at any cost and blames Bold Nebraska for protecting the environment. TransCanada is dysfunctional, Whining would be a better title.

Diamond leaks

Diamond says, “The likelihood of a leak is no more than once in 4,010 years; if there were a release the crude oil would float on the water.” Diamond adds, “We do not expect abnormal events to occur that would produce a surge event due to established standard operating procedures, 24/7 monitoring of the system, and protective devices at specific locations throughout the system.”

Why would anyone believe what Diamond says contrary to the high number of spills, about one per day, according to some reports? One leak in 4,010 years? All pipelines use leak detection systems using satellites and 24/7 remote control centers. Surges are created by turbulence in the flow when pressure changes or when valves are closed. Weak spots due to welding and corrosion create leaks or pipe ruptures. With one of the worst safety records and low-quality welded Welspun pipes, why would anyone be surprised when Diamond leaks?

Arkansas Nuclear One at risk

The 447-ft. tall ANO power plant cooling tower uses large amounts of clean water from the Illinois Bayou, with filters to keep solids out of the cooling tower. Water quality is a critical safety requirement. Their primary intake is due east from Lake Dardanelle. Diamond crosses the Illinois Bayou a few miles upstream from ANO and feeds Lake Dardanelle. Has the Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a hazard evaluation of a Diamond crude oil spill?  

Crude oil spills are man-made disasters. Ecological damages are irreversible. Why build more export pipelines ignoring 21st Century green energy solutions?

Dr. Luis Contreras


  1. Electric Vehicles are the best alternative to gasoline cars … a great idea over 100 years old, available today in many colors.

    “EV’s are great, yes they are great. Pavarotti has one, and he loves it, he took me for a ride last year when I went to see him. Very great.”

    In a recent article for The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi explores a number of efforts underway in state capitals across the country that are making the transition to electric cars a steeper uphill climb.

    These speed bumps take two main forms: 1) the canceling of tax credits that support EV sales and leases, and 2) new registration fees that disproportionately penalize battery-powered vehicles.

    These legislative attacks on EVs bear the fingerprints of Big Oil, which sees the electrification of the transportation sector as the biggest single threat to the oil industry.

    Groups funded by the likes of ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers are supporting the measures, and in some cases, even writing the bills.

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