In a statement today Transcanada, operators of the Keystone Pipeline, announced:
Transcanada crews safely shut down its Keystone pipeline at approximately…5 a.m. MST after a drop in pressure was detected in its operating system resulting from an oil leak that is under investigation. The estimated volume of the leak is approximately 5,000 barrels. The section of pipe along a right-of-way approximately 35 miles (56 kilometres) south of the Ludden pump station in Marshall County, South Dakota.
5,000 barrels is equivalent to 210,000 gallons.
Bad timing — the spill comes just as the Nebraska Public Service Commission is about to decide whether it is going to issue a permit to Transcanada to build the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.
This is the third — and by far the largest — spill on this section of the Keystone. There were spills of about 40,000 gallons each in 2011 and 2016.
David Flute, chairman of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe, told BuzzFeed News the leak was on a section of pipeline adjacent to his reservation. He said the area has “the cleanest lakes in South Dakota,” as well as a large subterranean aquifer, and is concerned about the possibility of contamination.
“I’m thinking there is going to be an impact, some type of environmental impact,” Flute said. “As the oil seeps, if they can’t contain the spill, which I’m hoping they do, if they’re unable to contain it from seeping into the water systems, it can be hurtful and harmful to everybody.”
“This disastrous spill from the first Keystone Pipeline makes clear why Keystone XL should never be built,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s issuance of a permit for Keystone XL is a farce that will only lead to more pollution for people and wildlife.”
Readers of this website are well aware that oil spills are an unavoidable result of drilling. A 2017 study determined that there were 4,453 spills in North Dakota from 2005-14. According to Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation data, there were 62 spills in Montana in 2016.
In a fragile ecosystem highly dependent on concentrated sources of water like the Beartooth Front, today’s spill is a reminder that local regulation to protect communities from the damage done by drilling is essential.
That is why residents are attempting to work with County Commissioners on local ordinances in Stillwater County.
Video update 11/18/2017: