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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

DENR Documents TransCanada Keystone Oil Leak in South Dakota

You read it here first: we have our first documented leak from TransCanada's Keystone pipeline in South Dakota.

Pump Station 22, site of TransCanada's first reported spill in South DakotaPump Station 22, Miner County, SD. Photographed during construction in late summer, 2009. PS-22 was originally sited for Mike and Sue Sibsons' farm; luckily for them, TransCanada moved the site off their property to two miles north of their house. The Keystone pipeline still bisects the Sibsons' fields.
According to DENR documents, on June 23, oil sprayed out of a loose fitting at Pump Station 22, three miles south of Roswell and two miles north of the Sibson farm in Miner County (featured last September here on the Madville Times). In three seconds, about a hundred gallons of crude oil blasted out and coated a 60x100-foot area. A crew was on site and shut off the oil immediately.

The clean-up recovered 80 gallons of oil. The response team removed 2500 gallons of oily water and 200 cubic yards of impacted soil. The ground was saturated at the time due to recent heavy rains.

You can read the full report here. (Sorry -- the file came with pages rotated 90 degrees; you might need to download it, then rotate the view in your PDF reader by hitting Shift-Ctrl-Plus.... ah! Update! and now some friends have kindly modified the PDF to rotate the pages in the right direction. Thanks, Web elves!)

So the TransCanada Keystone pipeline had its first leak in South Dakota... a week before the pipeline shipped its first drop of oil. Good work, fellas.

Now the report indicates no waterways or groundwater were contaminated. That includes the nearest well, two miles away, the water the Sibsons and their cattle use. No people or cows or utilities appear to have been harmed.

But consider: suppose this leak had not taken place when a crew just happened to be on site to turn the wrench or hit the button that shut off the flow. Suppose more than three seconds had passed between the time the gasket blew, the time someone noticed, and the time someone with the right-sized wrench showed up to perform a manual shutdown. In just two hours, that pump station could have thrown 240,000 gallons of oil—over 5700 barrels—into the air and onto the ground. And that's less than one sixth of the Keystone pipeline's current pumping volume.

By the way, the Miner County Commission unanimously approved zoning for Pump Station #22 two years ago. I wonder if they'll continue to gush with enthusiasm for Big Oil after this incident.


  1. Interesting post; here's my take:


  2. That didn't take long....


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