Thursday, May 1, 2014

Did TransCanada Try to Discredit a Pipeline Safety Whistleblower?

By Mike De Souza

Email suggests TransCanada sought to sap the credibility of a former employee

Evan Vokes, a fomer TransCanada engineer, has publicly accused the Canadian pipeline operator of trying to avoid costly repairs and inspections. Now a newly released internal email suggests that TransCanada tried to undermine Vokes' credibility as it sought approval for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Image: pipe section from the Keystone XL southern leg/Credit: Public Citizen

A newly released internal e-mail from TransCanada Corp. is raising fresh questions about whether its managers attempted to undermine the credibility of a former employee who questioned the company's commitment to safety, describing him as "disgruntled."

The email is the latest in a collection of thousands of pages of records released by the former employee, engineer Evan Vokes, who has been at the center of a dispute over the safety of TransCanada's operations in Canada. The emails also touch on TransCanada's record in the United States, where it hopes to build the multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline project. Another TransCanada pipeline, which runs from Alberta, Canada to Cushing, Okla. and is known simply as the Keystone, has been plagued by at least 35 leaks or other incidents in the U.S. and Canada since it opened in June 2010.

The records Vokes released document internal safety concerns raised within the Alberta-based energy company, along with the responses from management. Vokes worked at TransCanada for five years, specializing in "non-destructive" examination, which uses tools or visual inspections of the infrastructure without damaging the pipeline.  MORE

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