South Dakota Confirms 210K-Gallon Keystone Pipeline Oil Spill

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (CN) – South Dakota confirmed Thursday an oil spill of approximately 5,000 barrels in rural northeastern part of the state, near the North Dakota border, from the Keystone Pipeline.

“This is very uncommon for us in South Dakota,” Kim McIntosh, spill section coordinator with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said by phone Thursday night. “Luckily, there is no surface water impact.”

At 5:30 a.m., crude oil from the underground pipeline was detected in a grassy field in Marshall County. Within 15 minutes, pipeline operator TransCanada said in a statement the spill was isolated.

“This is a very rural farm field,” McIntosh said, by phone Thursday night. “The nearest neighbors are a mile-and-a-half away.”

McIntosh said there is no indication of foul play.

The northern phase of the Keystone Pipeline, from Alberta, Canada, to a refinery in Illinois, cuts through the South Dakota’s eastern half and is one of two lines carrying crude oil in South Dakota. The Dakota Access Pipeline juts the northeast corner on its way from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfields to Illinois.

The Dakota Access Pipeline crosses the Missouri River just north of the North-South Dakota border and was fiercely protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation stretches into north-central South Dakota.

In May, 84 gallons spilled in Spink County, neighboring Marshall. In 2016, approximately 400 gallons spilled near Freeman from the Keystone line, which is dug into the ground at least 48 inches.

Mcintosh said those spills were relatively minor compared to Thursday’s.

“At this point, I’m not sure how much soil will need to be dug up,” McIntosh said.

TransCanada said it is still working to assess damage and begin cleanup.

The Public Service Commission in Nebraska said earlier this week its verdict on approval of the controversial southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline across that state will be released on Monday.

South Dakota’s Marshall County is an agricultural area with wetlands from the surrounding Prairie Pothole Lakes Region. While no surface water was affected, the county’s 4,500 residents are mostly served by rural water systems. Wells are often used for livestock, but the nearest well is at least two miles from the spill site.

“There are no shallow groundwater users in the area,” McIntosh said. “That’s a relief.”

However, McIntosh also noted 5,000 barrels is about 210,000 gallons of oil.

“That’s a lot of gallons,” McIntosh said.

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