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TransCanada Inspector: Keystone Pipelines Not Safe

5:11 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

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.

Susie Tompkins Buell, Democratic Fundraiser Extraordinaire, Protests Obama’s SF Fundraiser

5:39 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Train Wreck? Duuuuhhhhh. (Photo: dok1, flickr)

Train Wreck? Duuuuhhhhh. (Photo: dok1, flickr)

Has Barack Obama lost Susie Tompkins Buell — founder of the Esprit clothing line and a major big-deal national Democratic fundraiser, bundler, and tastemaker? Then he’s lost a critically important component of his re-election treasury.

“I don’t even know what he stands for,” said Susie Tompkins Buell, a co-founder of the Esprit clothing company and one of the most generous Democratic Party donors in the nation – instrumental in backing such powerhouse progressive organizations as the Democracy Alliance and Media Matters.

This is going to give lots of wealthy liberal Democrats all over the country real pause: if Susie’s willing to say this in public, to the SFChronicle, while protesting in the street outside President Obama’s W Hotel big-roller fundraiser, won’t it be okay for me to delay my donations to the re-election campaign? If Susie’s signalling her unhappiness in public, doesn’t that give me permission to wait-and-see about my 2012 donations?

Susie Buell Tompkins is a San Francisco powerhouse: she drives non-profit fundraising, Democratic fundraising, women’s issues fundraising. She’s a Democratic pillar of the money machine. And she knows everyone with money in the Democratic party. She was #4 among John Kerry’s 2004 fundraisers. Making this public statement is a very bad sign for Obama’s re-election fundraising prospects:

“I think this is a huge issue about our future, about the planet, not just America,” she said. “And he needs to be a leader … to have the awareness of it. To fight for it.”

What issue has Susie so concerned she’s not only skipping a fundraising dinner she could easily afford, but also protesting outside the event and talking to the local paper about it, for attribution?

The Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 1,700-mile underground conduit linking the tar-sand fields in Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries.

It’s not only Nebraska ranchers and hippie bloggers and the Obama campaign’s 2008 fundraising email author and 80-year-old Barbara who are disappointed and worried about Barack Obama’s performance on environmental issues: it’s also Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bestest West Coast friend, the one who led the Hillary Holdouts in from the wilderness with her HuffPost article after the historic Denver convention.

If Susie Tompkins Buell is in the streets protesting Barack Obama, he needs to seriously re-think his strategy. Something is seriously amiss.