To reduce the risk of a leak, Keystone XL incorporates measures into each stage of the project, from design, through construction and operation of the pipeline, such as:
- Using tougher steel with special characteristics that prevent puncture;
- Inspecting 100% of the welds that join the pipe;
- Implementation of an effective corrosion-prevention program (including an epoxy pipe coating and cathodic protection);
- Periodic “in-line” inspections, in which an instrumented device is run through the pipeline, creating a map of pipeline wall thickness and integrity;
- Prevention of excavation damage through measures including increased depth of cover, increased puncture resistance, participation in the Nebraska One-Call program, use of pipeline markers and through an active public
- Regular aerial patrols of the pipeline right of way help TransCanada to promptly address issues, which could affect the integrity of the pipeline.
Many of Keystone’s leak prevention measures are required for any pipeline moving petroleum or other potentially hazardous substances, including the thousand miles of pipeline that have been operating for decades in Nebraska. Other measures go beyond requirements. Keystone has adopted these additional measures into its internal processes and has voluntarily committed to these measures as a part of the formal regulatory requirements with which the pipeline must comply in order to operate. These commitments are part of what has led federal reviewers to conclude that Keystone XL will be the safest pipeline built to date.
In addition to working to minimize the potential for a release, Keystone also incorporates the most capable leak detection systems and practices. A data system continuously monitors the pipeline system parameters, including pressures and flow rates, sending information to a control center that is staffed 24 hours per day. The data is assessed via several complementary methods to identify any leak. Pressure changes are indicative of a large leak. Smaller leaks will result in a mismatch of oil entering and leaving the affected portion of the system. Volume trending assists in identifying low-rate or seepage releases. The regular aerial patrols and the public outreach program mentioned above also assist in identification of leaks.
For more information: The NDEQ “Draft Evaluation Report on the Keystone XL Pipeline Nebraska Reroute” addresses leak prevention and detection in section 6.1.1. The document is available on the NDEQ website. The federal government’s “Keystone XL Final Environmental Impact Statement” addresses leak prevention and detection in section 22.214.171.124, 2-51. (See “Archived Documents”).