The Keystone oil pipeline that transports oil from the Alberta fields to refineries in Nebraska, sprung a leak sometime in early April or late March. It is uncertain when the oil started leaking from the line, but it was discovered by the farmer whose land the pipeline crosses.
TransCanada pipeline estimated that based on the amount of oil in the soil that about 16 800 gallons had leaked. They had nearly one hundred workers on site along with numerous machines to do a repair and clean up. While the response was prompt once the alarm was sounded by the farmer, leak detection equipment did not register any drop in pressure.
Local news gatherers in the Bold, Nebraska area were forbidden to overfly the spill site. Any photos taken by TransCanada may be held for months or years.
Oil that came to the surface is damaging and will likely result in poisoned soil and this year’s lost crop, oil can also soak down to join groundwater flow. There are two rivers nearby – the James and Missouri Rivers. An engineer who formerly worked for the pipeline company spoke about the likelihood that the official estimate of the size of the spill is way too low.
It can take a lot of oil to leak before enough of it percolates up to the surface level for someone to notice,” Vokes said. EcoWatch
He also pointed out that the leak detection equipment only sounds the alarm when pipeline pressure drops by 2% or more, so a seeping leak could go undetected for a very long time.
There is some uncertainty about what type of petroleum product was being transported at the time of the leak’s discovery. While light crude is bad, dilbit or diluted bitumen is worse. In order to get the thick oil to flow, it must be diluted with a solvent – dilbit. The result is higher in benzene than light crude.
Today, the oil resumed flowing to refineries. And we can rest easy about the possible contamination of the farm and nearby water sources.
TransCanada said it has not "observed significant impacts to the environment" and there are no "significant" bodies of water nearby. There is "no threat to public safety," the company said. CNN
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