Analysis: Study warns of leak risks of Canada-U.S. oil pipe

Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:00pm EDT
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By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp, a company that hopes to build a $7 billion pipeline to take crude from Canada's oil sands to Texas, has underestimated the number and volume of leaks that could occur on the duct and hurt water supplies, an analysis released on Monday said.

The independent analysis by a water resources engineer at the University of Nebraska was released by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, which has helped mount a fierce campaign hoping to convince the Obama administration to turn down the pipeline in a decision expected later this year.

In its application to the U.S. government to build the line, TransCanada has not fully assessed possible spill impacts of the Keystone XL line, said the analysis, done by John Stansbury of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He did not receive funding from environmental groups for the study.

The pipe is expected to cross the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast water resource in the High Plains states relied upon for irrigation and drinking water, the analysis said.

The U.S. State Department is reviewing the project, which is bitterly opposed by environmental groups and some politicians who do not want the massive pipeline to run across several states or to increase oil sands development in Canada.

"A thorough, adequate assessment of the potential impacts of leaks from the pipeline has not been done," Stansbury said. The analysis can be seen here:

"It should be done before we make any decisions on this pipeline one way or the other," he said.