The Keystone oil pipeline, in South Dakota, spilled roughly 5,000 barrels of oil on Thursday before workers were able to take the pipe offline. This comes days before a scheduled vote on land use for the new KeystoneXL pipeline project.
A TransCanada crew had to shut down the Keystone pipeline at 6 a.m. on Thursday after detecting an oil leak along the main line. The leak was detected along a stretch of pipeline just about 35 miles south of a pumping station in Marshall County, South Dakota.
It is reported that over 200,000 gallons of oil – about 5,000 barrels – were lost, before the pipeline was shut off. TransCanada was able to shut the line off within 15 minutes of detecting the leak. The site has since been turned over to federal hazardous materials cleanup crews.
The aging Keystone pipeline itself has spilled an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil in the year 2011, and 17,000 gallons in April last year.
The leak comes at an inopportune time frame for the company TransCanada, which is getting ready to expand its delivery network by building up the Keystone XL pipeline – a brand new, state of the art system, designed to funnel Canadian oil to the United States.
Nebraska regulators are due to announce a permitting decision for the Keystone XL pipeline on Monday morning. The 830,000-barrel-per-day project could potentially bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Nebraska, where it could join the existing pipelines to feed refineries across the US.
President Trump in March had signed a permit allowing the company to build the new KeystoneXL pipeline, a key component in his plan to lower energy costs, and leverage American energy independence.
Former President Barack Obama dragged his feet for years, in an attempt to stall the energy project – and eventually succeeded in blocking it in 2015. However, President Trump had it revived via an executive order earlier this year, a move that he often touts as the fulfilment of a major campaign promise.
The Keystone XL, if built, would cut down diagonally through South Dakota, where the state regulators have already granted all necessary construction permits.
But the opponents of the project had seized on Thursday’s spill, saying that it should lead Nebraska regulators to reject the pipeline project as soon as possible. “The [Public Service Commission] must take note: there is no such thing as a safe tar sands pipeline, and the only way to protect Nebraska communities from more tar sands spills is to say no to Keystone XL,” said Kelly Martin, the director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign.
However, unsurprisingly, the environmental radicals are ignoring key facts. The portion of the pipeline that broke down was old, and did not have the state of the art monitoring system in place that the KeystoneXL pipeline will have.