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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welspun Supplies Defective Steel to Six Pipelines: Plains Justice Seeks Keystone Investigation

Indian steel used to construct TransCanada pipeline in South Dakota, 2009"Made in India": photo taken September 3, 2009, of Welspun pipe laid in Miner County farmland as part of TransCanada Keystone pipeline in South Dakota
Want to avoid BP on the prairie? Then you might want TransCanada to suck the oil back out of the Keystone pipeline and check for defective steel.

Plains Justice has documented a pattern of defective steel used in the pipeline construction boom from 2007 to 2009. Much of the defective steel found in six Kinder Morgan and Boardwalk pipelines was produced by India's Welspun, which also supplied 47% of the steel for the Keystone pipeline, which TransCanada laid across eastern South Dakota last summer.

The 3710 pages of federal safety documents obtained by Plains Justice through Freedom of Information Act requests find several instances of defective steel rushed into production and installation during the same time period as the building of the Keystone pipeline. The documents from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration include no evidence of defects in the Keystone pipeline... but they also include no evidence that the PHMSA conducted any investigation of the materials that went into the Keystone pipeline.

Plains Justice reports they have since received phone calls (but no documentation) from the PHMSA assuring them that the agency will require TransCanada to conduct a
Someone remind me: how many sticky gas pedals did we have to find before Toyota recalled 5.3 million cars?
high resolution deformation scan of the already buried Keystone pipeline and a high resolution deformation tool run of the planned Keystone XL pipeline that will cross West River.

Now recall, TransCanada already got permission to use thinner than normal steel on Keystone and wants to do the same on Keystone XL. Thinner steel means they've already sacrificed some safety margin that might have mitigated danger from flawed steel.

Plains Justice is alarmed, as ought be every South Dakota landowner with possibly untested and defective Indian pipe running under their land ready to spring an oily leak. In a June 28 letter to the PHMSA, Plains Justice requests that the feds require TransCanada to conduct an in-line inspection before starting regular operations and publicize the results. Among other things, Plains Justice also recommends TransCanada take the prudent step of reducing the operating pressures in the Keystone pipeline and documenting the source of all steel used in Keystone's construction.

Just in case you don't want to read the 3710 pages of federal safety documents yourself, Plains Justice boils them down to a 17-page report on the use of substandard steel in U.S. pipelines.

For the sake of farmers like Mike and Sue Sibson, not to mention our wetlands and drinking water, let's hope that Plains Justice is wrong and that TransCanada just happened to get all of Welspun's good steel.

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