The Diamond Pipeline will not leak


“The good news is our state-of-the-art technology caught the leak.” – Robynn Tysver, TransCanada

Tysver was talking about the Keystone pipeline 210,000-gallon oil leak last week in South Dakota. It was not a leak and it was not oil. It was diluted bitumen from the Athabasca tar sands.

TransCanada should have said: The Keystone underground pipeline cracked and dumped over 210,000 gallons of highly toxic chemicals onto the South Dakota prairie. No one knows why the pipeline ruptured, how many gallons, how far the dilbit spread, the impact on people, farming or drinking water, and how to restore the land. This is the third time the pipeline has busted in six years, it should be more reliable, but we had limited funds and time to build it. Inspections and repairs mean shutting down the line, so we run around the clock and hope for the best. Things happen and we can’t pay for damages. It is the price people must pay for oil.

What would happen if Diamond leaked?

The question was raised by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and the Clarksville Water & Light utility company. In March 2014, ADH sent a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers, expressing safety concerns for all the Arkansas water districts, and requested an environmental review for each river crossing. The Corps decided to trust Diamond’s safety claims, ignoring PAA’s record of avoidable spills and unpaid damages, and denied ADH’s request for an environmental impact study.

Like TransCanada, PAA plans to deal with pipe corrosion, weld anomalies, pressure surges, and all other issues with pressure sensors and surveillance. “Diamond will be remotely monitored 24 hours a day, seven days per week, from a centralized Control Center, and regular aerial and ground surveillance patrols,” says PAA. Truth be told, pipeline revenue is based on the number of barrels delivered; PAA will run the line 24/7 until it leaks!

How will Diamond respond to spills? In 2017, Karen Rugaard, PAA Public Media Relations said, “Diamond Pipeline LLC strives to be a good neighbor in the communities where we work and operate. To demonstrate our commitment, we are offering a $2,000 to $10,000 First Responder Grant Program aimed at supporting the training and response equipment needs of responders along the Diamond Pipeline route.”

Diamond Expansion

Why would PAA choose to build a cheap pipeline on a high-risk route without environmental review? Money, money, money, money, money! As a Master Limited Partnership, PAA needs new projects to pay tax-free cash distributions to investors. New pipelines from West Texas will increase the crude stored in Cushing, requiring increased capacity for the Diamond pipeline. If the Diamond pipeline transports 350,000 barrels per day, the risk of leaks and spills will increase.

Diamond will not leak

Without supervision and with several contractors drilling and welding low-quality pipes, PAA failed to construct a safe pipeline. The Diamond Leak Detection system will not detect small leaks and will not prevent spills. PAA aerial inspections will only discover massive spills on the 440-mile path. PAA’s First Responder Grant Program shows Arkansans will pay for damages.

PAA failed to build a Truck Unloading Facility in Van Buren County, to provide service to other oil companies. Diamond’s false claims violate the 1940’s Arkansas statute 23-15-101 granting oil common carriers the power of eminent domain, and the testimony provided to the Arkansas Public Service Commission, docket 16-038-U. PAA does not have the right to operate a private pipeline.

Perverse Attitudes

Oil as easy money is a delusion. Luca Pacioli invented double-entry accounting in the 1440’s. The U.S. Congress found a way to distort reality giving fossil fuels unnecessary subsidies and tax exemptions. Ignoring the costs of fresh water, wastewater disposal, aquifer contamination, earthquakes, and greenhouse gas emissions, makes fracking the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a flawed way to fund the 2017 “tax cuts.”

Pope Francis sent a letter to the conference participants of the 2017 UN COP23 Bonn Climate Conference, saying “negation, indifference, resignation, and trust in inadequate solutions, are perverse attitudes.” Diamond is chemical warfare, it must be stopped before it leaks.

Dr. Luis Contreras