Keystone tells the federal government that, in its plan to construct a pipeline to carry crude oil from the Alberta tar sands all the way down to Texas, across the Midwest’s Ogllala Aquifer, there’s no need to worry about an oil spill. Keystone says that it has remote sensing technology that will trigger an alert whenever an oil spill takes place, so that it can be stopped and cleaned up before major harm is done.
The unfortunate truth is that this technology almost never works. A review of data byInside Climate News finds that over the last ten years, only one in twenty pipeline oil spills were successfully identified by remote sensing technology. Over one in five of these spills were found by people who happened to be passing by the pipelines at the time of the spills. The rest were found by happenstance by pipeline company workers – meaning that many oil spills on pipelines weren’t found for quite a long time.
Consider that Keystone plans to construct a pipeline across a thousand miles of the Great Plains. There’s no way that Keystone can have employees scanning the entire pipeline. Given the frequent failure of its remote sensing technology, that means that any oil spills from the proposed XL pipeline will likely be left to pollute the American midwest for quite some time before crews can be dispatched to try to stop them and begin a cleanup.