WOOD COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Concerned East Texas land owners are speaking out against the massive pipeline that will pump tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. A large portion of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline will be laid in East Texas counties. Friday, an environmental organization will meet with members of the community to discuss the pipeline's hazardous impact.
It's a project that worries land owners like Eleanor Fairchild, 79.
"I was having such anxiety attacks that I actually went to the doctor to make sure I was healthy enough to fight this thing," Fairchild said.
Fairchild has owned a Wood County farm for more than 20 years. Like other East Texas residents, she's concerned about the TransCanada pipeline that will pump oil through the middle of her property.
"I did not know what tar sands [oil] was. I went to the meeting of the state department and got this information on how they mined it, how contaminated it was, and the pressure it would be under," Fairchild said.
Fairchild's fears are backed up by a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report said that DilBit, which is the primary product being pumped through the pipe, poses an elevated risk to public safety, not only due to higher risks of a spill or rupture, but also because DilBit spills pose increased hazards to the environment and public safety.
"I think, what's going to happen to our water? If it gets out," Fairchild said.
With five natural springs on her farm, Fairchild's primary concern is that the pipe, which is only 1/2 inch thick, will corrode and oil will leak into her water supply.
A spokesperson for TransCanada said the company's goal is to create the safest pipeline in the industry.
"The way they make the components for pipelines is so sophisticated and so advanced now. The issue is not thickness, the issue is strength," TransCanada Spokesperson Jim Prescott said.
TransCanada wants to start phase 3 of the project, which would go through East Texas, at the end of next year. An environmental organization called The Sierra Club will be hosting a meeting in Tyler on Friday. It will take place from 12:30pm to 2:00 pm at Sweet Sue's Family Restaurant. The public meeting will educate citizens about the pipeline and help land owners protect themselves from threats of eminent domain.