Keystone pipeline spill validates fears


REACTION TIME — Photograph tweeted by TransCanada, as an aerial patrol captured the results of 210,000 gallons of oil spilling in South Dakota. (ABC News)

In the northeastern region of South Dakota, TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline had to be shutdown for leaking more than 200,000 gallons of oil. Last Thursday morning, Nov. 16, crews shut down the pipeline and prepared emergency response procedures after pressure drops were reported from a pump station in Marshall County, although they did not specify a time estimate of the shutdown. This pipeline transports oil from Canada to Texas and has created several debates. Supporters claimed that it provides more jobs in the U.S. On the other hand, critics claim that it can be detrimental to the environment, leading to potential spills, such as this.

Officials claim, however, that the leak did not affect any near- by bodies of water or endanger any water systems for drinking. The spill was only contained to an agricultural area.

“Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCan- ada and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,” said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist man- ager at the South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources.

Passing through Canadian territory and across several states, this 2,687-mile-long pipeline can transfer 600,000 barrels or about 23 million gallons of oil a day.

TransCanada announced that the pipeline was closed off from Hardisty in the Canadian province of Alberta to Cushing, OK and to Wood River and Patoka in IL. The southern portion of the pipeline system, which reaches to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is still open.

The company was able to detect a drop in pressure over- night and they safely shut off the portions of pipeline within 15 minutes. Five thousand barrels, or about 210,000 gallons were estimated to leak. However, no explanation of a possible cause of the spill was revealed.

“It was just a matter of time. There have been over 200 significant leaks in these pipelines since the year 2000. This is the exact threat that the Lakota people were trying to protect their sole source of water from at Standing Rock,” said Daniel Sheehand, chief counsel of the Lakota People’s Law Project. The Project consists of activists who disagree upon the Keystone XL pipeline, which is a proposed extension of the Keystone project since it could pass near tribal lands, potentially threatening their water supply.

Although Keystone XL was rejected by the Obama administration, President Trump revived this project in January during the same time he signed a permit on the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Monday, Nov. 20, Nebraska regulators decided to approve an in-state route for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline costing up to $8 billion and ex- tending over 1,179 miles.

“We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and today TransCanada is making our case for us,” said Kelly Martin, director of the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Dirty Fuels” campaign.

If oil pipelines have potential threats, then why are they still used today? For one thing, gas is an important resource for consumers who drive cars. If companies were to cut the supply of oil, then gas could be extremely expensive and scarce.

Another benefit of pipelines is that they remain the cheapest way to transport oil. Barge or trucking are other sources of transportation, but depending on geographic characteristics and distance, pipelines remain as the easiest option. This can also have an effect on the automotive industry. If the prices of gas skyrocketed, then consumers would be just as upset. Hopefully in the near future, as more car companies are introducing electric cars, consumers can become less reliant upon oil.

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