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  • Keystone Leak Spills 9000 Barrels in North Dakota

Keystone Leak Spills 9000 Barrels in North Dakota

Nov 17 2019 Read 342 Times

In a major setback for the Keystone Pipeline development, a spill has seen more than 9000 barrels of oil leak into the North Dakota wilderness. It's the second significant incident to hit the Keystone system in the past two years, with 4700 barrels spilt in South Dakota in 2017.

Stretching for almost 3500 kilometres from Canada's tar sands region in Alberta to oil refineries in Illinois and Texas, the Keystone Pipeline passes through seven US states, including North Dakota. While the TC Energy-owned pipeline is an integral part of the North American oil and gas industry, it's also been plagued with controversy. The North Dakota spill is the latest instance, with TC Energy forced to shut down the pipeline after the leak was detected in late October.

"Our emergency response team contained the impacted area, and oil has not migrated beyond the immediately affected area,” said TC Energy in a public statement.

Latest spill plagues Keystone XL proposition

While crews reacted quickly, the spill saw more than 9000 barrels of oil escape from the pipeline, enough to fill half an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Karl Rockeman, North Dakota's water quality division director has confirmed the spill infiltrated a local wetlands area near the community of Edinburg in Walsh County, North Dakota.

Currently, the US$5.2 billion pipeline has the capacity to transport 23 million gallons of oil a day. TC Energy is planning to expand with the Keystone XL pipeline, which would begin in Hardisty, Alberta and carry oil southeast to Steele City, Nebraska. While the company claims the project will create jobs and boost the US economy, it has received fierce opposition from environmentalists, who claim the danger of spills is not being taken seriously.

TC Energy slammed by environmental groups

"We don’t yet know the extent of the damage from this latest tar sands spill, but what we do know is that this is not the first time this pipeline has spilled toxic tar sands, and it won't be the last," says Catherine Collentine, associate director of the Beyond Dirty Fuels Initiative, a US environmental group founded to protect communities and public lands. "We've always said it's not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and once again TC Energy has made our case for us," she says.

Greenpeace USA was quick to criticise the spill, tweeting "Brought to you by the corporation that wants to build the much larger #KXL pipeline and have it cut right through the Midwest." Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also used the spill as grounds for criticising the policies of Donald Trump and accusing him of prioritising profits over the environment.

"As president, I will shut down the Keystone Pipeline that should never have been built in the first place," he promises.

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