About 210,000 gallons of crude oil leaked out of the Keystone Pipeline at about 6 AM Thursday onto a grassy field in a remote part of South Dakota, according to a statement from TransCanada, the company that runs the pipeline, turning the grass black and drawing massive cleanup crews to the scene.
— TransCanada (@TransCanada) November 16, 2017
“This is not a little spill from any perspective,” the New York Times quoted Kim McIntosh, an environmental scientist with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as saying. No livestock or drinking water sources appeared to be threatened, she said, and no farm buildings or houses are within a mile of the spill.
“TransCanada appreciates the collaborative support of local officials, emergency response personnel and commissioners in Marshall County, as well as the landowner who has given permission to access land for assessment, identification, and cleanup activities,” the company said in its statement.
The absence of any threat to the local or regional water supply is a mere coincidence of the location of the leak.
The crop damage shown in the photograph is the tip of the iceberg for the kind of environmental damage that can be caused by the occasional accidental leak from the pipeline, which, if all goes according to President Donald Trump’s plan, will become part of the Keystone system and travel through Illinois, Nebraska, and other states, where its location might not be quite as remote or distant from the water supply.
Sometimes you don’t realize how valuable water is as a resource until its availability is threatened or put at risk by a pipeline nearby, a tube that was assembled by, in many cases, the lowest bidder.