Let’s see emergency plan
before Keystone XL is OK’d
With the Exxon oil spill into the Yellowstone River fresh on our minds, emergency response plans for new and existing pipelines are of great concern. TransCanada has not yet released an emergency response plan for the Keystone XL pipeline, even though it is soon to be through an environmental analysis. An emergency response plan for this pipeline is crucially important, as the Keystone XL pipeline is planned to cross the Missouri, Yellowstone and Platte Rivers (the Missouri and Yellowstone River crossings are in Montana).
A recent analysis of potential spill volumes done by Professor John Stansbury, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at University of Nebraska, found that a spill on the Missouri River would lose over 134,000 barrels of oil. He estimated that a spill on the Yellowstone River would release over 188,000 barrels of oil. Contamination of benzene on any major river could exceed drinking water standards for over 450 miles.
The emergency response plan needs to be in place before building the pipeline, and every individual involved in the process needs a chance to review and comment on the plan. The impacts of a spill could be astronomical for emergency responders, local governments and affected landowners. The U.S. Department of Transportation through their pipeline safety administration can make this improvement to our policy and should do so in time to include the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality should make their permit conditional on this policy improvement.