LINCOLN, Neb., Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Canadian pipeline company TransCanada has rerouted the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to avoid a sensitive ecosystem in Nebraska, a state regulator said.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality published a draft evaluation report for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The NDEQ described the pipeline as a 36-inch diameter crude oil pipeline that would stretch 875 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border to Steele City, Neb.
"The Nebraska reroute avoids the region that was identified as the Sand Hills by NDEQ, which is based on extensive research conducted by various state and federal agencies several years ago," the agency said.
The NDEQ found an earlier proposed reroute met state requirements in avoiding the Sand Hills area. The NDEQ, however, said that route crossed areas that contain fragile soil structures that have "surface features very similar to the Sand Hills."
TransCanada, under the terms of the NDEQ's draft, would be required to test water samples within 300 feet of the pipeline and adhere to 57 special safety conditions outlined by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Environmental groups have expressed concern about the safety of pipelines like Keystone XL that carry tar sands oil, viewed as a corrosive type of crude oil.
The NDEQ scheduled a public hearing on the draft proposal for Dec. 4.