The Keystone pipeline raised concerns after its third major spill in five years Oil spillage

The Keystone pipeline, which runs 2,600 miles from western Canada through the central United States, leaked an estimated 14,000 barrels of oil, more than half a million gallons, on Dec. 7 into a creek in Washington County, Kansas. The incident was Dr the largest The Keystone Pipeline has caused an offshore oil spill since at least 2013 The third major spill in the past five years, and is the largest since it began operations in 2010.

This is also the case Previous assumptions Earlier spills in the pipeline turned out to be much larger than initial estimates.

Four dead mammals and 71 dead fish were recovered from the latest spill site, According to The Environmental Protection Agency, which is involved in the cleanup effort with the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), state and local agencies, pipeline owner and operator TC Energy, and the company’s contractors. About 5,500 barrels of oil and water and 5,000 cubic yards of oil contaminated soil. reinforced In the initial cleanup effort.

Most of the pipelines were not damaged resume Operations, cleanup efforts and investigations into the cause of the spill continue over the past week. It was Tuesday Report That TC Energy has submitted its plans to regulators for a full restart.

“This is our livelihood here,” said Bill Panbacker, a farmer whose land was affected by the spill. told CBS News. “Probably an acre, an acre and a half of grass was all covered in oil. But it’s on a slope so it’s going to run downhill, and that’s when it’s going to go down into the creek.”

was spreading the largest The onshore oil spill has been ongoing since at least 2013 and is the largest spill on the Keystone pipeline system since operations began in 2010.

A satellite image shows emergency crews working to clean up a crude oil spill along Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas.
A satellite image shows emergency crews working to clean up a crude oil spill along Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas. Photo: Maxer Technologies/Reuters

“Waterways and land should not be put at risk so Canada and big oil can get their products to market,” said Jane Kleeb, founder and president of the Nebraska nonprofit BOLD Alliance, which helps communities fight fossil fuel projects. Kleeb is also the chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party. “This is a tremendous burden that pipeline companies have placed on landowners. Not only do they take their land by eminent domain for the pipeline company’s personal gain, they also take one [access] Comfort forever.”

Kleeb argued that these spills show how unfair the relationship between pipeline corporations and landowners is. He also pointed out how the Keystone pipeline was Labeled “Safest Pipeline Ever Built” While pushing for approval for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Next was a proposed expansion of the Keystone Pipeline that was ultimately scrapped: its permits were initially revoked by the Obama administration, reinstated by the Trump administration, and then canceled By the Biden administration.

“It will take years to clean up this spill in Kansas. TC strength Currently pretending it’s going to be a two-week cleanup and everything will be fine,” added Kleeb. “Now the topsoil on that farmer’s property is destroyed forever. If you’re in the agriculture industry, you know how valuable topsoil is, and how much farmers and ranchers work to protect that topsoil. It is gone, never to return, the land will never be the same again.”

The crude tar sands oil transported by the Keystone pipeline is different from conventional oil. it is composed of Bitumen is a heavy oil that is cut with a lighter gas called diluent to facilitate transportation through pipelines.

“Oil spills pose both short- and long-term risks to ecological communities,” said Dr. Diane Orihel, assistant professor of aquatic ecotoxicology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. “In the days following a spill, oil exposure can cause acute toxicity in wildlife from oil ingestion, inhalation, suffocation, drowning, or hypothermia. However, scientists now know that the environmental effects of oil spills can be far more widespread and last for decades after the spill.”

Directed by Dr. Orihel Study On the effects of bitumen on freshwater lakes. He observed that it sinks below the surface of the water and deposits on the surface of the sediment within hours or days.

He also found that spraying diluted bitumen caused a strong reduction in the abundance of insects originating from the lake. Meanwhile, only a small percentage of the main contaminants of concern in bitumen — called polycyclic aromatic compounds — dissolve in the lake’s water column.

“This tendency of bitumen to sink into freshwater ecosystems makes oil cleanup even more challenging,” added Dr. Orihel.

Events such as Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon have shown that oil spills can have large-scale, long-term impacts. “Some wildlife populations may take years to recover from the initial death of an oil spill, but some components of the oil are persistent and remain in the ecosystem, continuously being taken up and causing long-term health effects on wildlife,” she says.

Still, other major spills like the one involving Hebei Spirit have provided a lesson. “They teach us that rapid and extensive cleanup of oil spills can help ecosystems recover from the disturbance and limit long-term impacts,” added Dr. Orihel.

In the past 12 years, the Keystone pipeline has had about 22 oil spills, with two other major incidents. There is only TC Energy Pay a $300,000 fine for the previous spill on the Keystone Pipeline, even if the spill caused $111m in property damage.

“It’s a lemon,” said Paul Blackburn, an attorney who specializes in pipeline law with Bold Alliance. “It’s been leaked a significant number of times, and each leak may have certain types of specific reasons, but the fact that it leaks so often suggests that there may be some underlying systemic reason for what’s going wrong.”

A 2010 Report An Environmental Law Center has identified a pattern of low-quality steel production and use in new pipelines built between 2007 and 2009. A manufacturer associated with the Keystone pipeline was included.

Keystone pipeline after construction received Numerous warnings from federal regulators about lack of corrosion protection and deficiencies in corrosion control. It took years to solve the problem. Recent US Government Accountability Office (GOA) Report It noted that the Keystone Pipeline’s safety record was deteriorating and identified “construction issues,” which led to major spills on the Keystone Pipeline in 2017 and 2019.

Blackburn argued for the possibility of fines being imposed on Pipeline Corporation included It’s the cost of doing business for these multibillion-dollar corporations, which often passes the cost on to consumers if they aren’t already covered by insurance. He noted that regulators could force pipeline corporations to conduct more frequent in-line inspections, such as imaging equipment that can ultrasound pipelines to identify potential points of failure and remedy them before spills.

A remediation agency has placed a boom on the surface of the oil spill after the Keystone pipeline sprung a leak in Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas.
A remediation agency has placed a boom on the surface of the oil spill after the Keystone pipeline sprung a leak in Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas. Photo: Kyle Bauer/AP

“All pipelines leak and depending on where they leak, it can be catastrophic, and it’s certainly catastrophic for the people who live there, whose land is affected,” Blackburn added. “There are better tools to prevent these types of leaks, and PHMSA requires that they be used more often.”

TC Energy claims to have recovered 6,973 barrels of oil from the creek as of December 17. “The affected portion of the Keystone pipeline system remains safely isolated as investigation, recovery, repair and remediation progress continues,” TC Energy said. statement. “This segment will not be restarted until it is safe to do so and when we receive regulatory approval from PHMSA.”

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