Keystone pipeline spills again, leaking nearly 400,000 gallons of crude oil in North Dakota

"It happens over and over and over and over and over."

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Construction along the Keystone XL pipeline.
Construction along the Keystone XL pipeline.

Experts predict leaks with each new proposed and constructed pipelines, yet companies continue to assure the public that oil pipelines are safe and reliable. Now the Keystone pipeline has sprouted yet another leak, spilling at least 383,000 gallons of crude oil in North Dakota.

As Bill McKibben tweeted, “It happens over and over and over and over and over.”

The leak happened on the Keystone 1 pipeline, part of the pipeline system that would include the notorious Keystone XL pipeline. The cause and scope of the spill are still under investigation.

“We don’t yet know the extent of the damage from this latest tar sands spill, but what we do know is that this is not the first time this pipeline has spilled toxic tar sands, and it won’t be the last,” said Catherine Collentine, associate director of Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels. “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.”

The portion of the pipeline affected by the oil leak has been shut down. The spill has affected a least 22,500 square feet of wetlands approximately an hour from the Canadian border in North Dakota. The leak has been contained within the initial spill zone but will harm vegetation and soil within the area, according to Karl Rockeman, director of North Dakota’s Division of Water Quality.

Environmental groups are quick to point out this most recent leak just adds to the multitude of reasons why the Keystone XL should not be built. The Keystone pipeline experienced a dozen spills in its first year of operation and last year spilled more than 400,000 gallons of crude oil into farmland in South Dakota.

“This is exactly the kind of spill we are worried about when it comes to Keystone XL being built,” Joye Braun, an Indigenous Environmental Network frontline community organizer, told CNN. “It has never been ‘if’ a pipeline breaks but rather ‘when’.”

The Trump administration has worked hard to try and push the project through since Donald Trump was sworn in as President. The Keystone XL project is currently in the hands of a federal judge that has yet to rule whether or not the $8 billion project will be approved.

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