Latest TransCanada Explosion In Manitoba Doesn’t Inspire Confidence In Pipeline Safety

Let’s Approve the Keystone Kops XL Pipeline Now!

TransCanada Pipeline ExplosionTransCanada is the company that wants to build the Keystone XL Pipeline Across the Great Plains. This is some of improved safety technology they been talkin’ up


[ At a press conference on Monday, TransCanada’s Karl Johannson said the company does not know what caused the explosion and it “will take several weeks” to determine what happened. ]

Oil tanker trains have been blowing up all over North America lately, spilling crude oil, causing evacuations and – in one case – killing dozens of people and wiping out a town in Quebec. This series of unfortunate hydrocarbon volatility event is due to several factors, the three most important being:

  • There is an oil boom in the U.S., particularly North Dakota, so there is way way more oil being shipped to refineries
  • The current fleet of oil tankers were obsolete 20 years ago, but are still being used in spite of NTSB warnings
  • The oil from the Bakken fields is more flammable than regular crude.

When the national media does report these events in a tepid way, depending on the body count, there is a subtext coming from the petroleum bosses. The message is that the railroad tanker explosions are in part because there are not enough pipelines to carry the glut of new oil. The 600 lbs gorilla in the room is the Keystone XL pipeline, which has yet to receive U.S. governmental permission.

This latest oil biz red herring is based on the erroneous premise that pipelines are safe, in spite of the fact that they are bursting and blowing up all the time. Why it was just yesterday that one of TransCanada’s pipelines blew up in Manitoba. Eye witnesses reported flames shooting 600 – 800 ft in the air.

If the name TransCanada rings a bell, it’s because they are the company trying to build the Keystone XL. You’d think these guys would be on their best behavior, but fireballs in the sky don’t lie.

This is not an isolated incident. President George W. Bush approved TransCanada’s first U.S. pipeline, Keystone I, in 2007 in part due to the companies claims of advanced safety technology that would prevent spills. The new pipeline leaked 14 times in it’s first year with the largest spill exceeding 21,000 gallons. Federal pipeline regulators were forced to intervene, issuing a Corrective Action Order temporarily shutting the pipeline down as an imminent threat to life, safety and the environment.

In July of 2011, TransCanada’s brand new Bison pipeline exploded in Wyoming six months after it opened. The company had claimed that the pipeline “will be in place for 20 or 30 years before they need any repairs.” Two months later it exploded, destroying a sixty foot section with a blast that could be heard thirty miles away. An investigation identified shoddy welding and poorly trained inspectors as two causes among many. Let’s let these guys build another pipeline!

TransCanada is far from alone in terms of their shaky safety and environmental record. Exxon, BP and Enbridge among others are  seemingly incapable of keeping their oily seed in their pipelines, with major spills in Arkansas, Montana, Michigan and Alberta over the past couple years and literally hundreds of minor incidents across North America every year.

TransCanada Pipeline Explosion

Consider these poorly reported events:

  • The Mayflower neighborhood near Little Rock was evacuated for six months due to a major pipeline breach on Exxon’s Pegasus line.
  • In October 2013 a pipeline exploded in northwest Oklahoma near the town of Rosston
  • In November 2013 a Chevron pipeline blast caused Milford TX to be evacuated for several days

Chevron Pipeline Explosion
In a sense, it’s all natural. It is the nature of oil and gas to leak and explode. It is the nature for petroleum operators to cut corners in their operations – especially maintenance and safety budgets.

So pick your poison: would you rather die in a train car explosion or a pipeline blast? Either of them can take you out anytime.


*The right is using Keystone as a wedge issue to prove the Muslim socialist guy is waging a war against fossil fuel (except during the holidays when he wages war on Christmas). This despite the fact that the U.S. is now the number one oil and gas producer in the world.

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