A University of Nebraska engineering professor isn’t surprised his assessment of the safety of an oil pipeline that could run through the Nebraska Sand Hills has been disputed by the company proposing the pipeline.
Engineering Professor John Stansbury colludes that TransCanada Corporation has been extremely optimistic about both the safety of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and how quickly TransCanada could respond to a spill.
TransCanada disputes Stansbury’s conclusions. It anticipates no more than 11 significant spills over 50 years and states it could respond in minutes.
Stansbury says TransCanada bases its conclusions on the best-case scenario.
“But, my analysis was not about the best case, my analysis was for the worst case,”
Whereas TransCanada anticipates only 11 significant spills, Stansbury estimates spills could total closer to 91. TransCanada claims it could respond within minutes to any spill. Stansbury expects response to take hours. TransCanada bases its assumptions on experience and updated equipment. Stansbury bases at least part of his assumptions on the Enbridge oil spill near Marshall, Michigan in which a 30-inch pipeline rupture a year ago sent 819,000 gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek that flows into the Kalamazoo River.
In one of his conclusions, Stansbury estimates a pipeline leak could spill 180,000 barrels of oil in the fragile Sand Hills, contaminating water in the Ogallala Aquifer, a major source of both drinking and irrigation water for Nebraska.
The 36-inch pipeline would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, crossing Nebraska and five other states.