Keystone pipeline leaks 5,000 barrels of oil in South Dakota (Update)

The Keystone pipeline has suffered a leak estimated to be equivalent to 5,000 barrels of oil or more than 200,000 gallons. TransCanada, the developer of the pipeline put out a press release Thursday morning about the leak:

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 was completely isolated within 15 minutes and emergency response procedures were activated.

Crews, including TransCanada specialists from emergency management, engineering, environmental management and safety as well as contracted, nationally recognized experts are assessing the situation.

KSFY reports that the spill is not believed to have reached any bodies of water thus far:

Brian Walsh with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources tells KSFY News they were alerted to the leak at 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning by TransCanada.

The leak was in the Keystone Pipeline located in an agricultural area in Marshall County. There have been no reports of the oil entering any waterways or water systems at this time…

Walsh anticipates the clean up will take some time.

There has already been some confusion online about this. The pipeline that leaked is part of phase 1 of the Keystone pipeline which was completed in 2010. The Keystone XL pipeline, which was in the news a lot a couple years ago, is a phase of the project that has not been built. TransCanada’s application for a permit for Keystone XL to cross the border was rejected by the Obama administration in 2015.

This is also not the Dakota Access Pipeline which sparked protests in South Dakota last year. This AP map shows the location of the existing Keystone pipeline (in black) and the planned location of the Keystone XL pipeline (the red dashed line).

The Trump administration granted permission for the Keystone XL pipeline to go forward. Yesterday Reuters reported opponents of the plan were making a last-ditch attempt to block it:

Opponents of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline have launched a last-minute public relations blitz before Nebraska regulators weigh in on its route next week in the last big regulatory hurdle for the long-delayed project…

Volunteers for Bold Alliance, an activist group that has been fighting the project since it was proposed nearly a decade ago, are knocking on doors in parts of the state to describe the threats that possible pipeline leaks could pose to groundwater.

“We want to make sure our fellow Nebraskans know the decision is coming … and how critical this decision is for property rights and clean water,” said Jane Kleeb, the group’s director, adding she has targeted districts represented by the five members of Nebraska Public Service Commission who will decide on the route.

This is still a developing story. I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

Update: As you’d expect, the anti-pipeline left is weighing in on this:

From the Washington Post:

The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada…

“TransCanada cannot be trusted,” said Jane Kleeb, head of the Nebraska Democratic Party and a longtime activist opposed to Keystone XL. “I have full confidence that the Nebraska Public Service Commission is going to side with Nebraskans, not a foreign oil company.”

There are still lots of people who seem confused about what pipeline is leaking. Many on the left are blaming President Trump even though this section of the Keystone pipeline was completed years before Trump was in office.