Report: 125 Segments of Nearly Complete Keystone Pipeline Through Texas Have Been Excavated

Categories: Environment

In a matter of weeks, crude oil will begin flowing through the Gulf Coast portion of the Keystone pipeline in Texas. The question watchdog group Public Citizen asks: Is it ready? That's because, with the help of landowners along the line's course, they say they've identified 125 separate instances in which lengths of the pipeline have been excavated.

As we reported back in May, TransCanada, which owns Keystone, told Unfair Park it had replaced nine sections "to protect the integrity of this pipeline." The response came after Public Citizen released photos of 9-foot lengths of pipe in East Texas spray painted with words like "DENT" and "CUT OUT." In an email to Unfair Park, a TransCanada spokesman confirmed that it had replaced some 700 feet of pipeline due to "construction impacts," amounting to roughly "3.100 of one percent" of its overall length.

"The fact that the anomalies on the exterior of the pipe were discovered in the first place is a direct result of the 57 special safety conditions we agreed to implement on this project and Keystone XL, many of which are not required by regulation but are standard practice on all TransCanada pipeline construction projects," the spokesman said.

In a press conference Tuesday, a former TransCanada engineer and whistleblower, whose tip led to an investigation by the Canadian government, said the excavations worried him.

"If you'd followed code you would not have these problems," said Evan Vokes. "This pipeline has now been exposed to a very large amount of construction activity, and with construction activity comes damage."

David Whitely, a farmer whose 88 acres Keystone traverses, said he'd heard a great pounding one day, like a "pile driver," somewhere out in his pastures Later, he found an unearthed section of pipe spray painted with the word "DENT," and a huge, buried boulder sitting in its 40-foot trench. Whitely figured they must have been chipping away at it with a track hoe. Contact with the boulder, he believes, is what dented the pipe in the first place. Now he fears that when the line is exposed to the weight of 700,000 barrels per day, the boulder will damage it again.

"One hundred feet from that spot is a feeder creek that goes into larger creek and a few miles down to Mt. Pleasant's water supply," he said.

The report goes on to identify potential trouble spots where peeling patch coating has been applied to dings; sections where the line sags under its own weight because of insufficient support beneath it; and spots where the field coating could lead to corrosion. In one 60-mile stretch, landowners say they were told by pipeline workers that as many as 40 "anomalies" were found.

"The number of potential issues that are raised, and the quality control problems concern me as well," said Mohammad Najafi, director of the Center for Underground Infrastructure Research at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Public Citizen is calling on TransCanada to perform additional testing to ensure the line's integrity, and on Congress to order federal pipeline regulators to conduct a quality assurance review of the Keystone's construction.

A TransCanada spokesman dismissed the report as an "amalgamation of subjects we have dealt with and responded to in the past."

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everlastingphelps topcommenter

Non-story.  "Maintenance work being done on keystone pipeline proves keystone pipeline not properly maintained!!!!"  Whatever.  It's a pipeline.  Pipelines require constant upkeep.  Corrosion, cathodic protection, unrelated construction dings, punchlist stuff, whatever.

Not every disgruntled ex-employee is a "whistleblower."

holmantx topcommenter

The economic benefit to Houston will be greater than what is happening today in Corpus Christi:

CORPUS CHRISTI (San Antonio Business Journal) – The city is seeing explosive economic growth from Eagle Ford Shale.

More than $3.8 billion in projects are under construction at the Port of Corpus Christi, with $12 billion more in the permitting phase, according to port officials. Some projects include:

A $10 billion Cheniere Energy Inc. natural-gas liquefaction plant, handling shale product.

Trafigura is undergoing a $500 million expansion of its crude oil terminal to handle additional petroleum exports.

The port is constructing a $46 million railyard to handle oil field shipments.

It's not just the port that's benefiting from Eagle Ford activity.

“There’s been an impact on everything in the local economy,” said Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Foster Edwards. “There’s been an increase in retail sales, in hotel occupancy, new limited-service hotels, even in vehicle sales.”


Nothing to see here…………Let's turn it on ….BANG!!……Oooops


@everlastingphelps Only in the deluded mindset of a Neanderthal like you.

Why does a brand new pipeline that has never even been opened to the flow of oil require repairs before it ever begins operations? The obvious answer is because those who built it did not know or care what they were doing, and were unconcerned about the harm that others might suffer if and when that pipeline experiences a disaster the way Enbridge and TransCanada are famous for doing. Just look at their histories to see the truth - Enbridge spill of 900,000 gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo (Michigan) River in July, 2010; ExxonMobil spill of 63,000 gallons of tar sands oil into the Yellowstone Montana) River in July, 2011; ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline spill of 210,000 gallons of oil in Mayflower, Arkansas in March, 2013; in fact, 31 major spills in the United States since 2001. Keystone 1, which was projected by TransCanada to suffer 11 spills over its lifetime, suffered 12 spills in its first year of operation.

If a company cannot even build a pipeline properly and safely, then how can the public ever trust it to operate it safely after it is buried? Fools trust them, but intelligent people do not. We already know which group you belong to.


@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul This story is exactly the kind of fears logical people should have about Keystone XL. The pipeline is not even finished and already they are having to dig it up to repair it. In one limited stretch they found 205 faulty, defective weld joints (nearly 50% of all joints in that section of pipe) because they had contracted unqualified welders and provides no competent supervision or inspection.

Yet, TransCanada wants us to trust them to protect us. TransCanada has a track record that says we cannot ever trust them because (1) they build faulty pipelines, (2) they operate their pipelines unsafely, and  (3) they lie about what they do and cover up their mistakes until they get caught, at which time they blame causes beyond their control.

If you have to dig up and start replacing parts of a brand new pipeline before it even being operating, and you have to repair defective welds before it is even opened up to carry any oil, then how are you going to convince any reasonable person that you know what you are doing and that you can safely build and operate a pipeline carrying hazardous materials? You don't have to listen to the opponents to derive the facts. All you need to do is visit the website of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ( and search for pipeline accidents to see why so many people oppose the KXL project.

everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @Wes_Scott blah blah blah.  You know nothing about pipeline construction, or any major projects for that matter.  Nothing this large gets installed 100% correctly on the first run.  There's always a final inspection and punchlist repairs during commissioning.  That's all this sounds like.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@fracquestions @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

I know much more about this than you realize or will likely ever admit to were I to tell you.

I will tell you this.

The mere fact that some segments with dents are being replaced after construction but before commissioning indicates to me that an inline inspection was done; and, these cutouts are based on the inline inspection.

Have a nice day, sir.


@everlastingphelps @Wes_Scott Oh bullshit! If the pipeline was properly inspected, then those problems would have been discovered BEFORE it was buried. You can spin it any way you want, and I know you will.

Wes is correct, and he appears to know more about pipeline projects that you. I agree that nothing this large gets done 100% correct (though that SHOULD be true), but problems with bad weld joints and dents in pipelines made to carry explosive and hazardous liquids and/or gases under pressure should always be checked and re-checked before they are buried.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@fracquestions @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

Thank you for confirming that you do not appear to be interested in an honest open and frank discussion of this subject.

The inline inspection cannot be performed until after construction is essentially completed.

My response to you was factual about what has occurred and why.

Your response indicates to me a lack of understanding and confirms to me why it is pointless for me to post factual and informative information about subjects such as this.

Based on your posts, I would like to know your position and recommendations about the following:

Approximately 2,900 people were killed on Texas roads in 2012.

What do you suggest that we do to end this carnage?


@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @fracquestions Denial is not a river in Egypt. If what you claim were true, then the problems would have been discovered long before the pipeline was buried and had to be dug up. But, don't let facts get in the way of your convoluted belief. It never stopped you before.

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