Environment Magazine

Winona, Texas Families Speak Out Against TransCanada’s Life-Threatening Welds

Posted on the 14 February 2013 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

The proximity of KXL’s shoddy weld from Lily Holme’s house is alarming

Faulty Weld on Keystone XL Compromise Lives of East Texas Community

Tar Sands Blockade Sends Photos of Shoddy Welding Work from a Protest in December to Regulators

For more information about affected families, environmental racism in Winona, Texas, TrasCanada whistleblowers and more, visit  Tar Sands Blockade website.

WINONA, TX – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2013 2:00PM – On the morning of December 3rd, faulty welds inside of a mile-long segment of KXL pipe were discovered during a Tar Sands Blockade action. The blockaders were shocked to find light shining through a weld precisely where they were resting after barricading themselves inside. The property through which the pipeline was being constructed belonged to a multi-generational Africa-American family, some of whom had had their land seized through the process of eminent domain, while others were paid as little as $200.

Tina Osby, a 63-year-old lifelong resident of Winona, and her mother, Annie Bircher, 85, have stated that they were never informed of the carcinogenic nature of the substances which will soon be flowing through and onto their land if regulators do not ensure the pipe is fixed and reinspected. Upon learning of the shoddy welding work done by TransCanada, their family is demanding accountability and stringent regulation to avoid a catastrophic spill, akin to the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010.

Annie recounted, “I didn’t think much about it at first, and it wasn’t until after construction started that I began to wonder.”

Photos of the faulty welds were first exposed on January 31st this year when Tar Sands Blockade Spokesperson Ramsey Sprague interrupted the annual Pipetech Americas Summit in Houston, TX, calling into question TransCanada’s commitment to safety and regulation during their speech on pipeline safety.

Whistleblower accounts to Federal officials in Canada and the United States from former TransCanada welding engineers and pipeline weld inspectors Evan Vokes and Michael Klink also describe systemic negligence and malfeasance in the corporation’s internal inspection and auditing process. Couple with the latest news that pipeline inspection technology programmers have been raising serious concerns about the efficacy of Pipeline Inspection Gauges, an industry-standard tool for locating life-threatening shoddy welds and pipe irregularities, there are many now speaking up about the dangers posed by the toxic tar sands pipeline being constructed in Texas and Oklahoma.


Shoddy welds found during pipe occupation action

Clearly, the dramatic and life-threatening weld discovered in Winona should be immediately investigated by PHMSA and the recurring themes of TransCanada’s systemic negligence of human health and environmental safety are considered within the broader scope of the Keystone XL Northern Segment’s consideration by the US State Department, but the entire discovery only confirms the deepest, most cynical fears of affected residents near the KXL route,” stated Ramsey Sprague, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson. “Construction of all tar sands pipelines should halt immediately until the clear inability for the petrochemical industry to construct, install, monitor, and maintain safe pipelines is remedied adequately in accordance with the common-sense sentiment that pipelines moving hazardous, toxic materials should not leak into peoples’ homes. Period.”


Tar Sands Blockade is a coalition of affected Texas and Oklahoma residents and climate justice organizers using peaceful and sustained civil disobedience to stop the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

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