TransCanada Keystone pipeline leaks 795000 litres of crude oil in South Dakota

Crews cleaning up Keystone Pipeline leak in Marshall County

Early Thursday morning, a leak in the TransCanada Keystone pipeline spilled at least 5,000 barrels-or 210,000 gallons-of oil in South Dakota. This northern leg has been closed, said the company, but the southern leg of the system from Cushing to the Gulf Coast remains operational.

"Just days before the Nebraska Public Service Commissions decides on whether to approve Keystone XL we get a painful reminder of why no one wants a pipeline over their water supply", said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema.

The company said in a press release that the leak was discovered after a drop in the pipeline's pressure was detected. The substance flowing through the Keystone pipeline is known as diluted bitumen, or "dilbit", because the bitumen (the crude oil itself) is so thick and sticky it must be diluted in order to effectively flow through the system.

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While details are still emerging around this spill, we know it occurred in Marshall County on South Dakota's northern border. It was detected about 6 a.m. Thursday by TransCanada and reported to state officials more than four hours later, said Brian Walsh, a manager with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. TransCanada's seven year old Keystone pipeline has been hounded by safety issues, with 35 spills in both Canada and the United States in its first year of operation alone. That new proposed pipeline would begin in Hardisty, Alberta, and extend south to Steele City, Neb., crossing through Montana, a thin slice of far southeast North Dakota, and then run through western and central South Dakota into Nebraska.

The Keystone pipeline is part of a 2,687-mile system that also is to include the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The project and its route through Nebraska has been controversial. The PSC will announce its long-awaited decision on the application Monday.

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