Remember the national debate over the expansion of the Keystone pipeline? Remember how Republicans promised it would bring jobs and present minimal environmental damage? Well, the portion of the Keystone pipeline that already exists has just leaked as much as 17,000-gallons of oil all across the agricultural lands of South Dakota.
A leak was discovered Monday, but TransCanada, the business managing the project, claimed everything was under control. TransCanada announced that the problem was a small leak limited to around 180-gallons. After resuming drilling, TransCanada turned out to be abysmally wrong. The proper number is closer to 18,000-gallons.
This is the Keystone Pipeline’s fifth leak in South Dakota. Many in the local community are concerned that the thousands of gallons of oil will make its way into the groundwater and affect the water supply. Additionally, members of the community who rely on the soil for farming are worried about the long-term effects.
Meanwhile, TransCanada does not seem to be especially concerned. According to the Dakota Free Press, TransCanada says:
“…the leak is being controlled and there is no significant environmental impact and no threat to public safety.”
Hopefully they are not quite as incorrect about this assessment as they were about the size of the leak.
Although TransCanada admits that it has not yet located the leak, it is once again insisting the situation is controlled, and has announced plans to resume drilling. The company is also still planning to expand the pipeline by an additional 2,800-miles.
The reaction to the spill has been underwhelming, especially considering that regulators did not even discover the leak; it had to be reported by a citizen in the area. This means that the safeguards put in place to prevent an environmental disaster were ineffective.
None of this is helping to sell Americans on the idea that such pipelines are a good thing for the communities they pass through.
Image by Getty/Billy H.C. Kwok.