Writing an opinion piece for the Lincoln (NE) Journal-Star, civil engineer Mike Klink calls TransCanada’s predecessor Keystone XL pipeline, for which he was a construction quality inspector, a “lemon” and a “proven loser.” Klink was fired from his job and is seeking Department of Labor whistleblower protection. His entire plea is worth reading. Excerpts:
I am not an environmentalist, but as a civil engineer and an inspector for TransCanada during the construction of the first Keystone pipeline, I’ve had an uncomfortable front-row seat to the disaster that Keystone XL could bring about all along its pathway.
Despite its boosters’ advertising, this project is not about jobs or energy security. It is about money. And whenever my former employer Bechtel, working on behalf of TransCanada, had to choose between safety and saving money, they chose to save money.
Regarding the pipeline for which he was a construction inspector, Mike Klink writes:
What did I see? Cheap foreign steel that cracked when workers tried to weld it, foundations for pump stations that you would never consider using in your own home, fudged safety tests, Bechtel staffers explaining away leaks during pressure tests as “not too bad,” shortcuts on the steel and rebar that are essential for safe pipeline operation and siting of facilities on completely inappropriate spots like wetlands.
I shared these concerns with my bosses, who communicated them to the bigwigs at TransCanada, but nothing changed. TransCanada didn’t appear to care. That is why I was not surprised to hear about the big spill in Ludden, N.D., where a 60-foot plume of crude spewed tens of thousands of gallons of toxic tar sands oil and fouled neighboring fields.
This is an insiders’ plea for the rest of us, on the outside of the company, to stop this pipeline:
Let’s be clear — I am an engineer; I am not telling you we shouldn’t build pipelines. We just should not build this one.
Pipelines can and do stand the test of time, but TransCanada already has shown that they cannot. After working on engineering projects all over the world, I can tell you that a company that cared about safety would not follow these types of practices.
If it were a car, the first Keystone would be a lemon. And it would be far worse to double down on a proven loser with Keystone XL.
The stories of how TransCanada has bullied landowners in Nebraska rings true to me. I am living it, as well. After repeatedly telling the contractor and TransCanada about my concerns, I lost my job.
But I couldn’t watch silently as a company put innocent people at risk with a haphazardly built pipeline. I am speaking out on behalf of my children and your children.