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Over 200K gallons of oil spill in South Dakota from Keystone Pipeline

Over 200K gallons of oil spill in South Dakota from Keystone Pipeline

Crews will likely clean up the oil faster than the pollution from the protestor camp

It is now being reported that TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline has leaked over 200,000 gallons of oil in northeastern South Dakota.

Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated.

Officials don’t believe the leak affected any surface water bodies or threatened any drinking water systems, said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which has dispatched a staff member to the site.

“Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCanada, and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,” Walsh said.

Before the eco-activist hysteria sets in, I would like to point out that pipeline transport of materials has fewer incidents, but the releases can be larger.  To put this spill in perspective, it is wise to consider the amount that has been released from other pipelines that already exist:

Nearly 9 million gallons of crude oil have spilled from pipelines in the United States since 2010.

That’s enough oil to fill a square pool 10 feet deep and 950 feet wide. It’s 2.15 million more gallons than are in the Reflection Pool at the Lincoln Memorial in DC.

As Bajak writes, the 1,300 crude oil spills since 2010 amounts to one every other day.

The spillage in this incident impacted neither the area’s surface waters or populated areas, as the flow occurred on agricultural lands.

Furthermore, the cause of this particular spill is unknown. But it is wise to consider that pipelines have been the target of eco-activist sabotage….as in the case of an incident that occurred this past September.

Police are investigating a new incident of pipeline sabotage in which an activist poured corrosive material into sections of pipe destined for a crude oil pipeline in southern Ontario.

The sabotage is the just latest attempt to protest oil infrastructure through vandalism, although it is one of the more aggressive — and potentially dangerous — actions.

An anonymous poster is taking credit for drilling holes and pouring corrosive material into sections of stored pipe meant for Enbridge’s Line 10 pipeline. Currently under construction, the project involves expanding 35 kilometres of the line, installed in 1962, allowing it to carry up to 74,000 barrels of oil per day.

Finally, I think the trained spill response crews will be able to recover scene faster than the teams who had to respond to the Dakota Pipeline protestor pollution.


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They had to pollute the land, to stop pollution. Ya.

I’m sorry, but I have no idea what the author is attempting to say in this sentence:

“The spillage in this incident impacted neither the land or populated areas, as the flow occurred on agricultural lands.”

If the “flow occurred on agricultural lands,” how can one say that “[t]he spillage in this incident impacted neither the land…”? Indeed, many of us believe “agricultural lands” to be very important land, indeed.

    Thanks, as I meant “surface waters”. Corrected. However, in terms of impact on people — and I consider this important – the impact in this area is less than if a train derailed in a town.

      Thank you for clarifying. I don’t disagree with your point about minimal immediate impact on people; I just didn’t understand that particular sentence.

      (Now you might want to check the spelling of the edit… :O )

    CZ75Compact in reply to Anonamom. | November 17, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    I worked as an investigator for the Water Quality Division of a state Department of Environmental Quality adjacent to South Dakota. Our standard remedial action for small spills such as this that didn’t reach a waterbody was to order the company to disk the oil into the upper six inches of soil. Oil is mostly carbon, so it readily biodegrades. Oil contains some toxins, but most are volatile and quickly volatilize or biodegrade. There isn’t enough toxic metals to cause a concern.

    Bottom line — sounds like the system worked. The pipeline was shut down and the damage limited and likely not significant in terms of human or ecological health.

This is much ado about nothing. Crude oil is a naturally occurring material. There have been surface pools of oil extant in parts of the world since the dawn of recorded history. Tens, if not hundreds, of millions of gallons, of crude oil have been “spilled”, in the last century. Millions of gallons of refined petroleum products have leaked or been spilled, much of it in populated areas, in the last 100 years. And, still the world turns. Mankind not only still inhabits the planet, but thrives, in spite of itself. The spillage of oil in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War was ~55 million gallons of crude, much of which ended up in the Arabian Gulf. This does not include the oil whjich was spilled, intentionally or by accident in interior portions of Kuwait. There was minimal clean-up [essentially none as only 10% of the released oil was recovered] from this spill. The environmentalists have long claimed that the environmental impact was enormous. However, with the exception of a reduction in the crab population in certain mudflats and tidal areas, no significant lasting damage has been documented.

People wring their hands over oil spills. Oil spills as highly visible. They smell bad. And they are messy. But, they are really not very dangerous to humans. Land spills are easily cleaned up. Soil is removed, baked to remove organic materials, including oil, and can be returned to where it was excavated, Beneficial organic materials can be reintroduced to return the soil to its original state. Surface water contamination will dissipate. And naturally occurring microorganisms have been found which actual consume oil. Subsurface water supplies can be efficiently filtered. This has been done where natural petroleum seepage into subsurface aquifers has been occurring for long periods of time.

Once again perspective is important. Considering the amount of petroleum spillage, leaks and natural seepage in the last 100 years alone, 200,000 gallons is insignificant.

    Mac45 in reply to Mac45. | November 17, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Correction: Approximately 550 million gallons of crude oil were released in the Kuwait oil spill in 1991, not 55 million gallons. I left out a zero. Sorry. But you get the idea.


Here’s my take on this. This has been a high profile issue for many years with protests and political grandstands. Knowing all of this how is it possible that these idiots that constructed this pipeline could be so careless as to build in a flaw of this magnitude? What if had occurred over water or in a more damaging area? If you were under a microscope doing a job would you not do it even better than any other job you had ever done? This is not an old pipeline and it tells me that you simply cannot trust anyone connected with oil or making money. What else can we expect from this company that has promised so much and delivered so little?

    tom_swift in reply to inspectorudy. | November 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    What if had occurred over water or in a more damaging area?

    That’s why they spend more money when constructing the portions of a pipeline in those areas.

    Perfectly sensible; it’s like having stronger fire codes for occupied buildings than for barns or toolsheds.

      inspectorudy in reply to tom_swift. | November 17, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      If this was a heart surgeon to do an open heart operation on you would ignore the shoddy workmanship on the overland part? Doesn’t one indicate the competence of the other? Even if they did overbuild the portion over water, would it be as badly built as this part? The same people were in charge of the entire pipeline, over water and over land.

        ooddballz in reply to inspectorudy. | November 17, 2017 at 6:37 pm

        OH MY GAWD, what if a giant meteor strikes the earth and wipes out the dinosaurs?

        It did NOT happen over water, and as has been pointed out already, oil is a naturally occurring chemical that has leaked to the surface for thousands of years.

        It is a NATURAL substance, and the earth has dealt with it for a very long time.

Notice how they slip between the conventional measure for oil, “barrels” (when they’re talking about productivity, etc, ie “up to 74,000 barrels of oil a day”’, and “gallons” (when they want a big scary number, ie “over 200,000 gallons of oil spilled”)?

Why use two such different units of measurement?

200,000 gallons of oil is 4,761 barrels of oil.