Crews Find Source Of Oil Leak, Begin Repair
TransCanada authorities say crude oil could move through the Keystone pipeline again by the end of the day Saturday. Crews discovered a leak that released nearly 17,000 gallons of oil. The pipeline is shut down, but TransCanada says it should be fixed by Satruday, so oil can flow at reduced pressure.
TransCanada officials say engineers and pipeline integrity specialists are working on the leak site. They say they have conditional approval from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to restart the line after repairs are done.
Crews discovered the source of a leak in the Keystone pipeline Friday. The Saturday before, they shut down the oil line after a landowner noticed a sheen in the soil near Freeman. Even with the fix, landowners are still concerned about contamination from the leak.
What TransCanada first called a “small potential leak” has spilled an estimated 400 barrels of oil into the ground. Paul Seamans is a rancher in southeast South Dakota who’s visited the area.
"This spill has happened kind of not on top of the hill but on the side hill, and below the spill it goes downhill for a long ways," Seamans says. "So I would think that that leak could have been flowing for a long time, and who knows what they’re going to find?"
Seamans says he’s even more concerned that no alarm triggered as 16,800 gallons of oil leaked into the soil.
Federal regulators and South Dakota’s Department of Environmental Resources are monitoring TransCanada’s investigation and cleanup. Environmental scientist Brian Walsh says the site is secure, so crews can capture and remove any contaminated surface water.
"And in terms of groundwater, the site sits on an area of till, or low-permeability material, that’s about 150 feet thick, and that lies between aquifers that are below it," Walsh says. "So based on the information we have at this time, there are no impacts to aquifers and any water that does collect in the excavation area is collected and properly containerized so that it can be disposed of off-site."
Walsh says oil doesn’t threaten wells in the area because they’re deep enough in the ground.
This story was last updated at 5:03 p.m. CT on Friday, April 8, 2016.