TransCanada shuts part of Keystone pipeline after South Dakota oil spill

Chelsea West
November 17, 2017

The Keystone Pipeline leaked about 5,000 barrels of oil in South Dakota on Thursday, according to TransCanada.

TransCanada said in its statement that it expected the pipeline to remain shut down as the company responds to the leak.

The leak occurred just a few days before the Nebraska Public Service Commission is scheduled to make a November 20 announcement of its decision on whether to approve a permit to allow construction of the controversial long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

The shutdown was made at 6 a.m. after a drop in pressure was detected in its operating system. The substance flowing through the Keystone pipeline is known as diluted bitumen, or "dilbit", because the bitumen (the crude oil itself) is so thick and sticky it must be diluted in order to effectively flow through the system. An estimated volume of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, leaked.

Crews cleaning up Keystone Pipeline leak in Marshall County
Keystone pipeline leaks more than 200K gallons of oil

The 210,000-gallon spill occurred on private agricultural land in Marshall County, northeast of Aberdeen.

Keystone carries crude from the oil sands in Canada to refineries in IL and Texas, and to a distribution center in Oklahoma. That new proposed pipeline would begin in Hardisty, Alberta, and extend south to Steele City, Neb., crossing through Montana, a thin slice of far southeast North Dakota, and then run through western and central South Dakota into Nebraska.

This is the second significant leak on Keystone over the past two years. The project has been delayed for several years and was revived this year through an executive order by President Trump.

This spill should be a stark warning for Nebraska's PSC as it considers TransCanada's proposed route for Keystone XL through some of the state's most sensitive farmlands and aquifers. Nebraska regulators plan to announce their decision next week.

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