According to a report published by National Public Radio, on November 16, 2017, TransCanada, the firm who owns and operates the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, experienced an oil leak in one of the pipelines it operates near the small town of Amherst, South Dakota a town about 200 miles north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and 25 miles north of the North Dakota border. The section of pipe near Amherst reportedly spilled an estimated 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil. At about 6 a.m. CT on November 16 TransCanada crews detected a drop in pressure and shut down the pipeline. The affected section is part of a pipeline system which runs from Hardesty, Alberta, to Cushing, Okla., and Wood River/Patoka, Illinois; however, it is not a part of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.
According to Reuters, the pipeline which carries over 590,000 barrels of oil per day, which links Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries, has not yet restarted due to cleanup and repair efforts. The line represents one of the main crude export pipelines carrying a viscous type of oil called diluted bitumen (dilbit), or tar sands oil. Tar sands oil is thicker than the crude oil typically pumped through pipelines in North America and presents problems for pipeline companies because the thick tar sands oil can be difficult to detect if it leaks from a pipe. Typical crude oil, when it leaks from a ruptured pipe disperses faster resulting in an immediate pressure drop in the pipe and an easily spotted pool of oil near the compromised area of the pipe, whereas tar sands oil tends to leak slower and pool in a smaller area.
When tar sands oil emerges from the drilling location, it has the consistency of peanut butter. To facilitate transport through a pipe system, it is then thinned with diluents. When a spill occurs, the diluents quickly evaporate, leaving behind thick tarry goo that sinks in water or when spilled on the ground is often hard to detect allowing it to leach into the surrounding soil. One can think of an example of this difference in viscosity using a household example. Compare the effects of maple syrup and water when spilled on a table.
The former disperses slower whereas the latter flows faster and spreads out in a larger area. The same rules apply to oil, as well. Further, in addition to difficulties in detecting this type of spill is the fact that tar sands oil is far more damaging to the environment when it is introduced into the environment ecosystem. Further, in addition to difficulties in detecting this type of spill is the fact that tar sands oil is far more damaging to the environment when it is introduced into the environment ecosystem.
A 2015 study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, provides a thorough analysis of the dangers presented by tar sands oil when a spill occurs. According to the report tar sands or dilbit quickly solidifies and can be more difficult to detect and remediate particularly if it reaches a water source where it sinks.
The Amherst spill happened on a section of pipe in a sparsely populated area three miles southeast of Amherst. Despite the remote location, the impact on the local population is an area of concern. The cleanup efforts have been handled exclusively by TransCanada who reports they have about 170 personnel round-the-clock on the site engaged in clean-up activities. At this time, the company reports that residents will not be impacted. TransCanada reports that “As a safety precaution, TransCanada sampled one residential water well yesterday at a location about 1.5 miles from the site to alleviate any concerns — all test results were normal,”
Another concern raised is the proximity of the spill to the Crow Creek drainage ditch, a small tributary to a major water supply for South Dakota, which flows just a few dozen feet from where the spill happened. The ditch takes snowmelt to the east flows into the James River about 40 miles away.
In a statement to VICE News, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the spill did not happen at a site used for drinking water. “There are no nearby municipal drinking-water users in the area of the spill. There is anticipated to be shallow groundwater at this site; however, this groundwater at the site is not being used for drinking water,” a spokesperson said. “The full extent of environmental impacts has not yet been determined as environmental testing will need to be performed.”
The Political Response
The timing of the TransCanada spill presents an interesting political question in that TransCanada operates the controversial Keystone XL pipeline which has been at the center of a fierce fight pitting environmental groups and affected communities along the pipeline route and the gas and oil industry who are keen to not have the Keystone XL pipeline project or any other pipeline in operation portrayed as an environmental hazard.
Ironically the spill occurred just days before a Public Service Commission (PSC) in Nebraska was to decide whether to grant a permit for a contested section of the Keystone XL, whose environmental risks are revolving around potential harm to the state’s ecologically delicate Sandhills region and the Ogallala aquifer. When on November 20, 2017, the PSC ruled that the project could proceed, their decision was lauded as a hard-won validation for President Trump and the oil and gas industry and lamented as a grave environmental threat to farmland and groundwater below.
In a recent speech, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard advocated regarding the oil spill in south dakota – a substantial quantity of 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone pipe in South Dakota. She additionally mentioned that our reliance on nonrenewable fuel sources endangers the wellness of the environment. The dangers of nonrenewable fuel source are well recorded, as well as recent spill is just added to the ecological destruction and also little actual oversight or liability.
As the Trump management as well as Scott Pruitt’s EPA prefers to nonrenewable fuel source, indicates that all are going in the direction of a defining moment when it pertains to maintaining our atmosphere. Previously, a team of 15,000 researchers provided a cautioning to the globe that time is going out to quit one of the most disastrous impacts of international environment adjustment. We have to pay attention to their words and also act currently prior to it is far too late. These were among the few points made by the budding researcher and nature advocate Tulsi Gabbard
One year back, Tulsi Gabbard congresswoman from Hawaii took a trip to North Dakota with a large number of U.S. armed forces experts to oppose the building and construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Along with the Standing Rock Sioux, Water Protectors from numerous indigenous people, and also countless ecological lobbyists, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and team, protested for tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, as well as resistance to the greed as well as carelessness of firms like DAPL’s Energy Transfer Partners as well as Keystone’s TransCanada.
Tulsi Gabbard shared that the nonrenewable fuel source market to maintain it in the ground or run the risk of the adverse impact that masses are encountering today.
An environment guardian, Tulsi Gabbard, claimed: there is no such point as a risk-free oil pipeline. From the Gulf of Mexico, where 672,000 gallons of oil were splashed previously, to South Dakota, no area could declare resistance from the risks of nonrenewable fuel source removal. That is why these pipeline projects have to be dropped completely.
Regardless of what Donald Trump and also Scott Pruitt could claim, nonrenewable fuel sources are on their way out. Tulsi Gabbard pointed out that none of the nation on the planet is holding on to the power resources of the past like the United States. Tulsi pointed that we are the only country left on the outside looking in at the Paris Climate Agreement. It makes no feeling for American taxpayers to support oil, coal, as well as gas while we shun the technical financial investments that each nation in the world is making.
Often known as a nature steward, Tulsi Gabbard stated, As long as we cannot transform our means, we will certainly lose on duty and also financial and also ecological advantages that originate from tidy power usage.
Tulsi Gabbard’s experience taking a trip to the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock became part of just what influenced her to present the OFF Act in Congress this year. With this bill by Tulsi Gabbard, we could in fact note exactly what the clinical neighborhood has actually been requiring and also mandate a simply shift to 100% renewable resource by 2035, with an enthusiastic criteria of getting to 80% renewable resource by 2027.
A nature dedicated Tulsi Gabbard also included – rather than funding coal, oil, and also gas, we could buy work in clean power, re-train displaced nonrenewable fuel source workers, as well as develop a clean power framework that will certainly result in power freedom and also reduced energy expenses for all.
Tulsi Gabbard added– Water is life. We should secure our individuals and also our earth, not bow down to business greed. That is why she is appealing all to join in this battle, currently and also constantly, to guarantee and look after our world as well as protect a future that is lasting for the generations to find.
We could make clean water, clean air, as well as clean land a truth for every single individual in the United States within our life times, if we decide to act now.
As the Trump management and also Scott Pruitt’s EPA give a green signal to fossil gas execs, America is going in the direction of a factor of no return when it comes to protecting the environment. Reformist Tulsi Gabbard informed the fossil gas market to maintain it in the ground or take the chance of the repercussions that masses are encountering today.
The political response to this spill has been expected with politicians in favor of the Keystone XL project responding in a muted fashion. Traditional opponents of the Keystone XL project and other fossil fuel projects have been quick to point out that spills such as the Amherst spill are an unnecessary environmental risk given that until the end of the Obama Administration the country’s stated policy position was to move away from fossil fuels.
According to a Reuters report published on November 27, 2017 the spill risk assessment provided by TransCanada stated that that estimated the chance of a leak of more than 50 barrels to be “not more than once every seven to 11 years over the entire length of the pipeline in the United States,” according to its South Dakota operating permit. For South Dakota alone, where the line has leaked twice, the estimate was for a “spill no more than once every 41 years.” However, this position is difficult to square against the fact that the pipeline in the Amherst area has had smaller spills, in 2011 and 2016 experienced smaller spills of 400 barrels each. However, a spill on the scale of the most recent has not occurred in this area.
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