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US Keystone pipeline leaks for second time in two years

04 November 2019

The Keystone pipeline has been closed following a 9,000-barrel crude oil leak in North Dakota. It is the second significant leak from the pipeline in the past two years after a 5,000-barrel (818,000 litres) spill in South Dakota in November 2017.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The Keystone pipeline is owned by TC Energy (formerly TransCanada Corp) and transports crude from the Alberta oilsands in Canada, to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, passing through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. It can handle nearly 600,000 barrels daily.

The leak was first discovered on September 29 in a rural area near Edinburg, in the northeast of North Dakota. In a statement, TC Energy said work has begun to clean up the spill and find out the cause of the leak.

Karl Rockeman, Director of the North Dakota Division of Water Quality, which is in charge of the clean-up operation, said the work on the underground pipeline is intended “to prevent any further oil that may be sitting in the pipeline from being released.”

As well as the previous November 2017 leak, there was also a leak and spill in south-eastern South Dakota in April 2016 which prompted a weeklong shutdown of the pipeline. TC Energy estimated that just under 77,200 litres of oil spilled onto private land during that leak. Federal regulators said an “anomaly” on a weld on the pipeline was to blame.

The Keystone Pipeline is part of a 2,687-mile system that will also include the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which has faced persistent opposition from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners.

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