Workers took the Keystone oil pipeline offline on Thursday after it spilled 5,000 barrels of oil in rural South Dakota, officials said.
TransCanada said in a statement it discovered the leak 6 a.m. on Thursday after systems detected a drop in pressure, and that it was working with the authorities as it investigates.
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Walsh said 5,000 barrels of oil have leaked, and at 42 gallons a barrel, that totals 210,000 gallons of oil.
TransCanada says that expects the pipeline to remain shut down as the company responds to the leak. TransCanada is providing state and federal regulators, including the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the National Response Center, with accurate and confirmed information on an ongoing basis. This is actually Keystone's third major spill in South Dakota, with the first being a 21,000 gallon tar sands spill which occurred in its first year of operation and a 16,800 gallon spill which happened last year. This northern leg has been closed, said the company, but the southern leg of the system from Cushing to the Gulf Coast remains operational.
This spill should be a stark warning for Nebraska's PSC as it considers TransCanada's proposed route for Keystone XL through some of the state's most sensitive farmlands and aquifers. 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. The PSC will announce its long-awaited decision on the application Monday.