A security assessment of the northern leg of Keystone XL concluded that a few untrained terrorists, with little preparation, could create massive oil spills in the US heartland. Pipelines are regularly attacked in other countries. Because we haven't had such a a catastrophe yet, we ignore the risk.
A retired, highly-decorated Special Forces officer and member of “SEAL Team 6″ has conducted an alarming new security assessment of the vulnerabilities of a completed northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. His conclusion? It is shockingly easy for a small group of people with little or no training to attack the pipeline and cause an Exxon Valdez-sized spill into the heart of America, threatening drinking water for millions.
Throughout Keystone XL’s approval process, both proponents and opponents have paid a lot of attention to pipeline safety. Some say that pipelines are safer than shipping oil by rail, while others point to pipeline explosions, spills, leaks, and failures that threaten aquifers, sensitive lands, and populous areas. The security vulnerabilities of the pipeline receive little mention.
Oil pipelines are attacked with alarming regularity in other countries — Iraq, Colombia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico. Many have troops that directly defend pipelines. But in the United States, it’s essentially unheard of — so much so that, according to Cooper, we are in danger of an “optimism bias” that ensures that threats are not taken seriously until a catastrophic event happens.
The assessment “found that a handful of terrorists could use just four pounds of explosives at each of the three pump facilities located [REDACTED] to cause explosives that could trigger a catastrophic spill of 7.24 million gallons of dilbit (with its highly toxic chemicals).” In the most damaging scenarios depicting a coordinated attack across dozens of miles of pipeline, several explosions at pump stations would cause 60 percent of the oil in those sections of pipeline to spill.
... the proposed pipeline represents a significant tactical problem: namely, if a position can’t be reasonably defended, then in general it shouldn’t happen. [emphasis mine]