Keystone Pipeline Leak More Disastrous Than Initially Reported, Over 16,800 Gallons Of Oil Leaked

On Saturday, a leak was discovered on the Keystone pipeline, which led to its immediate shutdown. At the time, TransCanada told regulators and the media that approximately 187 gallons of oil spilled.

The company reported to the National Response Center and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration that it had already shut down the pipeline after a farmer discovered the leak.

However, the Canadian company announced that the amount of spilled oil has ballooned to 16,800 gallons as of Thursday, and until now they have not found the primary source of the leak, as mentioned by spokesman Mark Cooper.

The company told CNN Money that they have made progress in trying to find the source, although they have not found it. In a report, about 100 employees are working “around the clock” to resolve the issue.

The site of the leak, which is about four miles from the company’s Freeman pump station in Hutchinson County, South Dakota, is in danger of sustaining environmental damages.

The recent report said that about 400 barrels’ worth of leaked oil was derived from the safe excavation of soil that exposes about 100 feet of pipe. The company began digging on Sunday.

TransCanada said in a statement that it is taking the incident “very seriously,” and is currently working with state and federal regulatory agencies.

Last year, President Barack Obama denied a request by TransCanada to expand the Keystone pipeline, citing environmental concerns. The company even went to federal court to challenge the president’s decision.

As for the concerned residents in South Dakota, they fear that the leak would lead to environmental damages.

Elizabeth Lone Eagle, who is an official intervener for the state, said that the site’s close proximity to some water systems like the James and Missouri rivers could lead to damages, not to mention the potential groundwater contamination that could affect other towns.

Meanwhile, some energy policy experts claim that there is nothing to worry about regarding the recent leak and its potential environmental damages

“This is a relatively minor issue, and it’s not going to in and of itself create a huge problem,” said Warren Mabee, who is an energy policy expert at Queen’s University.

However, he added that this leak will definitely make a negative impact on upcoming debates regarding pipeline installations and approval.

Mabee said that while TransCanada is doing its best in keeping its pipelines safe, the recent leak will be a major blow to similar companies because the public will already have the notion that such projects are not 100 percent safe.

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On the other hand, landowners and protesters believe that the leak will give them new grounds in their battle against the state.

“Many tribes and non-Indians continue to press their concerns on the possibility of constructing the Keystone XL Pipeline, particularly in light of the recent spill,” said Atty. Peter Capossela.

The Dakota Rural Action, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe are among the groups that have filed an appeal against the state’s decision to re-certify the pipeline’s building permit.

The most recent oil leak is already the fifth in South Dakota for Keystone I, which was certified by the Public Utilities Commission in 2008. Other spills include three occurrences in 2010 and one in 2011, in the same location.

Keystone by TransCanada carries light and heavy crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to several refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, passing through several states such as North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. The Keystone pipeline carries about 23 million gallons of oil daily.

[Photo by Nati Harnik/AP Images]