Former TransCanada engineer warns of widespread safety violations

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, October 18, 2012 15:56 EDT
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Former TransCanada engineer Evan Vokes. Photo: Screenshot via CBC.com.
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The Canadian government said recently that former TransCanada engineer Evan Vokes was right to raise alarms about inspectors not being trained well enough to spot shoddy work that’s not up to code.

Speaking to CBC News, Vokes said he was fired after repeatedly raising concerns that some of the company’s welders were taking shortcuts that could lead to future accidents. He claims to have alerted all levels of company management about the problem before filing a report with Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB).

That board admonished TransCanada last week for lax pipeline inspection policies, sending an open letter warning that future lapses will not be tolerated. The letter explained that an investigation was launched after an employee reported the noncompliance in May.

TransCanada, the company behind the ambitious Keystone XL project that would send Canada’s tar sands to oil refineries in Houston, Texas, saw an application for the northern leg of the pipeline denied by the Obama administration after environmental impact studies were not completed before a deadline imposed by Republicans in Congress.

The State Department invited TransCanada to apply again, and said the company was free to move ahead with the pipeline’s southern leg.

Despite government approval, construction of the pipeline in Texas has faced growing opposition by local land owners and environmental activists, some of whom have taken up residence in trees and forcing crews to work around them.

This video was broadcast by CBC News on Wednesday, September 18, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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