Feb 1st, 2013
From Tar Sands Blockade
Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel, The Woodlands, TX – 9 AM this morning, TransCanada executive Tom Hamilton’s presentation of a Keystone XL case study at the Pipe Tech Americas 2013 conference was interrupted when a blockader chained himself to audio equipment and delivered a speech to the nearly 300 attendees. Hamilton, the Manager of Quality and Compliance for the Keystone Pipeline, was supposed to give a forty-minute talk about safety and regulations related to the southern portion of the KXL pipeline. Instead, Tar Sands Blockade organizer Ramsey Sprague gave an impassioned rebuttal highlighting TransCanada’s poor safety record.
For several minutes before security disassembled the audio equipment and took him away, Sprague described shoddy welding practices and dangerous corner-cutting throughout TransCanada’s operations as exposed by whistleblowers like Evan Vokes, a metallurgic engineer who came forward in May 2012, leading to an investigation by Canada’s National Energy Board. Sprague reminded attendees that TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline has already leaked over 30 times and that other industry leaders such as Enbridge are similarly negligent, with over 800 spills since 1999. He derided TransCanada for routing the KXL pipeline through ecologically sensitive areas and through communities like the one in Douglass, TX, where construction crews are actively laying pipe within sight of the Douglass public school.
“TransCanada’s safety record is beyond deplorable,” said Ramsey Sprague, a lifelong Texan with roots in Gulf Coast communities directly impacted by industrial pollution and waste. “TransCanada’s wanton disregard for the health of our communities is clear from it’s reckless construction practices. I’m taking action today to set the record straight: TransCanada cannot be trusted. There is now clear evidence that Keystone XL is not safe, and I will not stand aside while a multinational corporation poisons Texas communities.”
Sprague also described how activists who blockaded themselves inside the actual KXL pipe on December 3rd could see daylight through holes in welds connecting segments of pipe – and how Tar Sands Blockade has the pictures to prove it. That mile-long section of the pipe was laid in the ground on the same day; no additional welding or inspection occurred after the photos were taken.
Updates: Ramsey has been released from jail. Feel free to contact Geoff Micks, Event Director, 416-214-2091 firstname.lastname@example.org to explain to him why Tar Sands are bad.
More updates here