Environmental concerns mount as Keystone pipeline leaks more oil than predicted

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather staff writer
November 29, 2017, 9:10:39 AM EST

keystone pipeline leak

This aerial photo shows spills from TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone pipeline, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, that leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota. (DroneBase via AP)

The Keystone pipeline leak earlier this month resulted in significantly more spillage than the company estimated was likely, according to a new report.

The incident, which spewed over 200,000 gallons of oil into fields near Amherst, South Dakota, was one of three substantial leaks in the pipeline since operations began, the Reuters report revealed.

The others took place in South Dakota in 2016 and North Dakota in 2011, each expelling around 400 barrels of oil.

Risk assessments which were submitted to regulators before the start of the project in 2010 estimated that a leak of more than 50 barrels of oil would not occur more than once every seven to 11 years.

Where the two South Dakota spills took place, no more than one spill was predicted once every 41 years, according to TransCanada Corp documents.

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As of Nov. 26, TransCanada had recovered over 44,000 gallons of oil from the Amherst site. Continued monitoring of the air and local well water revealed no significant concerns, they said.

While cleanup continues, the company resumed operation of the pipeline on Nov. 28.

Adding insult to injury for opponents of the project, Nebraska regulators have since voted to approve a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which will stretch across 1,200 miles and carry over 800,000 barrels of oil each day.

However, numerous environmental groups and locals are expected to challenge the decision, fearing the impact of global warming and the future of local water supplies.

keystone pipeline protest

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline demonstrate on the Dodge Street pedestrian bridge during rush hour in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Greenpeace responded to the report by tweeting: "An acceptable number of spills in a risk assessment is: zero. And that’s the same number of pipelines we should have."

Co-founder of climate change awareness organization 350.org Bill McKibben said, “No one should give up.”

“For seven years now, public pressure has kept 800,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil underground and in the process helped spawn a worldwide fight against fossil fuel infrastructure. We will work with our colleagues in the Upper Midwest on the next steps to defend their land and our climate,” McKibben said.

Donald Trump, who reversed the Obama administration decision to block the pipeline, previously said there was “no downside” to the project.

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