Latest Keystone Pipeline Oil Spill is Nearly 10 Times Worse Than Initially Thought

Posted by on November 23, 2019 in Environment, Environmental Hazards with 0 Comments

Image Credit: The Mind Unleashed

By Elias Marat | The Mind Unleashed

A crude oil spill from the Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota nearly a month ago was roughly 10 times larger than first reported, officials now say.

On October 29, the Calgary, Alberta-based TC Energy—corporation previously known as TransCanada—shut down operations of the pipeline after the major multinational corporation discovered that it was leaking large amounts of oil into the surrounding wetlands.

Initial reports from the company and North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality suggested that the leak, which spilled roughly 383,000 gallons of oil into the region, impacted about 2,500 square yards of land.

However, state environmental scientist Bill Suess now says that the leak impacted 23,232 square yards of land, or 4.8 acres—nearly 10 times the original estimate, reports CNN. The new estimate takes into account both the surface and subsurface impacts of the leak. The original estimate had only been based on visual observations of the spill.

A TC Energy spokesperson said:


“During our initial response to the incident, we immediately sectioned off a larger area (approximately 25,000 square yards) around the visibly impacted section to secure the area, provide for wildlife deterrent and air monitoring purposes.”

Following approval from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the pipeline was returned to service on November 9. However, the cause of the spill has yet to be determined.

At the time of the leak, Indigenous Environmental Network frontline community organizer Joye Braun told CNN:

“This is exactly the kind of spill we are worried about when it comes to Keystone XL being built. It has never been if a pipeline breaks but rather when.”

In a statement at the time, Greenpeace USA senior research specialist Tim Donaghy also noted that the spill confirmed precisely what environmentalists had been warning authorities about.

“I wish I could say I was shocked, but a major spill from the Keystone pipeline is exactly what multiple experts predicted would happen.

In fact, this is the fourth significant spill from the Keystone pipeline in less than ten years of operation. History has shown us time and again that there is no safe way to transport fossil fuels, and pipelines are no exception.”

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