Crews cleaning up Keystone Pipeline leak in Marshall County

A Keystone pumping station in Steele City in Nebraska

TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators said Thursday, but state officials don't believe the leak polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems. The cause was being investigated.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the environmental groups who oppose it, says the XL pipeline is created to transport tar sands oil which it called the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet. The move reversed a 2015 decision by the Obama administration to reject the project, citing the pipeline's effect on USA efforts to combat climate change and lower carbon emissions. Emergency response procedures were then activated and the pipeline was shut down.

The spill also comes a few days before a decision in Nebraska on whether to allow an extension of the Keystone XL pipeline, Keystone's sister pipeline which is also operated by TransCanada, to be built through the state.

According to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources' website, this is the third pipeline spill in the state this year. It was vociferously opposed by environmental groups and Native American tribes. "While unfortunately it's too late to prevent this bad spill in South Dakota, it's not too late to protect Nebraska's families, farms, and communities from paying the same price". It can handle almost 600,000 barrels daily, or about 23 million gallons.

Even if the spill does not pollute the aquifer, it will stoke opposition to Keystone XL, now back on the agenda since President Trump overturned Obama's ban.

"There's a heck of a south wind up here today, and man it just stunk of crude oil", said Moeckly, whose property is crossed by the pipeline.

Keystone Pipeline leaks 210000 gallons of oil in South Dakota

One farmer, who owns land just north of where the oil leak happened and has pipeline underneath his property, says he isn't surprised that any of this happened. "A mile away, but I'll tell you it was like it was next door". Most of the opposition to the pipeline was motivated by the extraordinary greenhouse intensity of the oil being transported, but there was also extensive concern about the likelihood leaks would occur.

The company also claimed that up-to-date information is being provided to impacted landowners, and agencies including the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources now are on site.

According to TransCanada the pipeline was shut off within 15 minutes, but the largest leak in the Keystone's history had already occurred.

"This [incident] should certainly be considered with regards to the Keystone XL pipeline", Margolis said.

"With their awful safety record, today's spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the irresponsible oil company TransCanada", said Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth. In 2010, the first year it was in use, there were 35 Keystone leaks in the United States and Canada.

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