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Thursday, September 2, 2010

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Springs Third South Dakota Leak

Three down, one to go: according to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources Environmental Events Database, Pump Station #23 on the TransCanada Keystone pipeline sprung a leak on August 10. This one was just a little squirt, five gallons of tar sands oil hitting the ground two miles west and two miles south of Freeman. The database lists the cause as "equipment failure."

TransCanada's map shows four Keystone pump stations in South Dakota. Three have leaked. Only the northernmost South Dakota station, near Ferney in Brown County, has a clean record... after two months of full operation. The Keystone XL pipeline would add seven more pump stations to our state.

As I noted when reporting the pump stations leaks at Carpenter and Roswell, TransCanada's June 2006 pipeline risk assessment told the State Department we could expect "a spill of 50 barrels or less occurring anywhere along the entire pipeline system is once every 65 years...."

I welcome any environmental engineer to come scold my ignorance and the "50 barrels or less" assessment doesn't include trivial amounts like the five gallons spilled at Freeman and Carpenter. But until I hear that explanation, I'm thinking TransCanada needs to tighten its slide rules... and its pump station nuts.
Bonus Spillage: TransCanada is still a piker compared to past oil spillers in our fair state. I search the DENR spill databae for crude oil events and find 100 over the last four decades. Koch Exploration was responsible for 21 spills in Buffalo County from 1978 to 1995 totaling about 28,000 gallons, or just under 670 barrels. Add in the amount of crude spilled since then in 54 spills by Continental Resources (which appears to have acquired Koch's Buffalo County operations, or maybe just became Koch's new name—I'm not sure yet!), and you get 116,000 gallons, or a little under 2800 gallons. That's an average of 3600 gallons a year... and since May, TransCanada is on pace to spill only 330 gallons a year.

Update 08:33 CDT: Meanwhile, an oil well near Killdeer, North Dakota, is leaking 100 barrels an hour.

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