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Keystone's 2nd Big Spill in 2 Years: 'What's Going On?'

Nearly 400K gallons of crude oil leaked onto half-acre in North Dakota on Tuesday
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2019 7:15 AM CDT
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This Wednesday photo shows affected land from a Keystone oil pipeline leak near Edinburg, ND.   (North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality/Taylor DeVries)

(Newser) – "Two cracks on a fair­ly new pipe­line—geez, what’s going on?" That's a legitimate question to ask about the Keystone XL pipeline, a safety expert tells the Star Tribune, considering that an apparent rupture in the controversial pipeline Tuesday in North Dakota is the second major one in two years. A statement from pipeline owner TC Energy says that about 383,000 gallons of crude oil—the equivalent of half an Olympic-size swimming pool, notes the Washington Post—have saturated half an acre near the Canadian border, a few miles from the town of Edinburg. The somewhat good news: No people or wildlife have been reported injured, per a TC Energy statement, and because no one lives right near this section of wetland, which isn't a source of drinking water, a risk to public health isn't a concern at the moment, says a rep from the state's Department of Environmental Quality.

The company says the oil has been contained and an investigation and cleanup is underway. In November 2017, a spill near Amherst, SD, leaked out 407,000 gallons of oil; the National Transportation Safety Board says that spill was likely from a growing crack caused by a construction vehicle. There've been multiple smaller spills along the pipeline over the past decade as well. The AP reports the spill coincided Tuesday with a public meeting held on the pipeline, in Billings, Mont., part of the environmental review mandated by a federal judge who blocked the pipeline's extension last year. One farmer at the meeting getting paid by TC Energy for property access said the risk of a spill is "very minuscule," but a Sierra Club rep says in a statement, per the Post: "We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and once again TC Energy has made our case for us." (Read more TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline stories.)

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