One of the biggest on-shore oil spills in US history was reported in the State of North Dakota on October 31, Thursday, and the Keystone pipeline system is to blame again. Current estimates say that over 383,000 gallons or 1.45 million liters of oil have leaked over around 22,500 square feet of land in the Edinburgh County in the northeastern part of the State. The leak was discovered by the water quality division of the North Dakota State. This is the second major leak from the pipeline in two years.
The leak took place on Phase 1 of the pipeline which stretches nearly 3,500 km from Hardisty in Alberta, Canada, to an oil terminal in Patoka, Illinois. It carries close to 550,000 oil barrels or 87 million liters every day, and has a capacity of 860,000 oil barrels or over 136 million liters on any given day.
The pipeline system is owned by the Canadian oil corporation TransCanada Corporation, which was recently renamed as TC Energy. The company is planning a new transnational pipeline extension called the Keystone XL. The proposed pipeline extension has been criticized by several environmentalists and indigenous groups over concerns of damage to indigenous cultural sites and for the drastic ecological impact of incentivizing further fossil fuel use.
The previous oil spill from the pipeline was followed by several revelations on the failure of the company. The spill was reported In November 2017 near the town of Amherst in South Dakota. TransCanada had reported that the volume of the spill was close to 210,000 gallons or 795,000 liters. But a federal investigation conducted a year later said that the actual volume was nearly twice as much – more than 400,000 gallons or over 1.5 million liters.
The investigation also found that the company had reopened the pipeline less than 12 days after the spill, much earlier than what was advised by regulators even if at a lower pressure. It was also revealed that leaks and spills were grossly underestimated in the company’s risk assessment report submitted in 2010.
With a new oil spill in less than two years in the same pipeline, activists and community are likely to mount greater resistance to TC Energy and Keystone.