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Concerns Over Spill Grow

May 12, 2011

The Keystone I pipeline, that runs from Alberta,Canada to hubs in Illinois and Oklahoma, is still shut down after the 500 barrel spill that occurred May 7, 2011. The reported that Bob Banderet, a nearby landowner, reported the spill at 6:15 am. He said he witnessed a 60-foot oil geyser spewing from the pump station, soon after leaving his home.

“It was higher than the cottonwood trees,” he said.

When Banderet called the TransCanda spill hotline, the operator questioned if his claim was legitimate.

“I would have thought by the tone of my voice — I was very excited — I don’t know how they would have figured it was a drill or a joke,” he said.

It is estimated that 21,000 gallons of oil was released after a faulty valve caused the spill. Banderet said that most of the oil appeared to be contained at the pump station but there was over flow that moved into a nearby field. TansCanada claims they were in the process of shutting down the line prior to the call from Banderet.

While TransCanada is being praised by Sargent County Commissioner, Bill Anderson, for their quickness in addressing the spill, Anderson did say, “”I have to confess: I did not anticipate that we would have a problem this soon.”

According to the company’s risk analysis on file with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, a leak of 50 barrels or more on the Keystone system would be expected once every seven years. The pipeline began moving oil in June.

A representative from TransCanada claims this estimate does not apply to pump stations. However, the pump stations were not included in the risk analysis of the Keystone I.  Cleanup is supposed to be completed by the end of the week. But this spill does raise questions about what would happen if the same type of spill occurs with the Keystone XL, the much larger proposed pipeline that will run from Alberta, Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

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