TC Energy cleaning up after ‘unfortunate’ pipeline oil leak in North Dakota

Pablo Tucker
November 4, 2019

Keystone's leak in North Dakota was detected just hours after the U.S. State Department held a public hearing in Billings, Montana to solicit comments on the department's new analysis (pdf) of the potential environmental impact of the Keystone XL project.

It is still unclear what caused the leak, which occurred near a TC Energy pumping station, Rockeman said.

Canada is the biggest provider of foreign oil to the United States, with USA exports averaging about 3.6 million bpd in 2018, according to the federal Canada Energy Regulator.

The leak, which occurred northwest of Edinburg, North Dakota, affected a wetland area, Karl Rockeman, director of the state's Department of Environmental Quality's division of water quality, said in a statement.

The total for the Keystone pipeline's 2017 gush onto South Dakota agricultural land was revised from about 210,000 gallons to more than 400,000. "TC Energy immediately began the process to shut down the pipeline, activated its emergency response procedures and dispatched ground technicians to assess the situation", the company said.

State Environmental Quality Chief Dave Glatt said no sources of water were affected by the spill.

The pipeline can handle 23 million gallons of crude oil daily.

The Keystone Pipeline System runs from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in IL and Texas, as well as to oil tank farms and an oil pipeline distribution center in Oklahoma. It is part of a system that also is to include the proposed $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline created to transport the oil from western Canada to terminals on the Gulf Coast.

The incidents "further call into question President Donald Trump's March 2019 decision to promote the pipeline's expansion by granting permission for the construction of Keystone XL".

Experts predict leaks with each new proposed and constructed pipelines, yet companies continue to assure the public that oil pipelines are safe and reliable.

Federal regulators said an "anomaly" on a weld on the pipeline was to blame.

Environmental group Greenpeace USA said that the spill was "brought to you by the corporation that wants to build the much larger #KXL pipeline and have it cut right through the Midwest".

The oil leak is the second spill to happen in two years under the pipeline's sole management, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada).

After the spill, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted that, as president, he would shut down the pipeline that "should never have been built in the first place". Richard Kuprewicz, the president of pipeline safety consulting company Accufacts, told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

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