“Landowners’ worst fears came true,” Jane Kleeb, the head of Bold Nebraska, told DeSmog after news broke about the latest Keystone pipeline oil spill. “When you have a pipe running through your farm or ranch-land all you think about is: it could break today.”
On Saturday afternoon that fear was realized by a Hutchinson County, South Dakota land owner. Loern Schulz found oil in surface water near the Keystone pipeline’s right-of-way and reported the spill.
By Sunday, TransCanada had shut down the Keystone Pipeline, which originates in Alberta, Canada, and goes to Steele City, Nebraska. But the rest of its U.S. pipeline network is operational.
The Keystone connects to the Cushing Extension pipeline that ends in Cushing, Oklahoma, where it connects to the Keystone XL’s southern route, renamed the Keystone Gulf Coast Pipeline when the project was split into sections. The Gulf Coast line moves product from Cushing to Nederland, Texas, providing TransCanada a route to move Canadian tar sands bitumen to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and export.
Though President Obama rejected the northern Keystone XL route last year, which would have stretched from Alberta to Cushing, TransCanada has transported Canadian tar sands crude via its Keystone pipeline network since early 2014, when the Gulf Coast pipeline started operations.
TransCanada didn’t have a representative at the potential spill site until Sunday. But by Monday, when the media broke the news, TransCanada had blocked off the area, making documenting the contaminated area from the ground impossible.
[UPDATE APRIL 8: KCCI reports that TransCanada now believes the Keystone pipeline has leaked about 16,800 gallons in South Dakota, a dramatic increase from initial estimates.]