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The duration of the clean-up effort from the Keystone oil spill may span weeks, according to a report by Reuters, and South Dakota’s environmental regulator is unsure of how long it will take to restart the key artery, which links Canadian oil sands to refineries in the United States.
Last week, an oil spill from the Keystone pipeline leaked over 5,000 barrels of oil into grasslands in South Dakota.
“We expect it to take several weeks. Our focus is making sure they do that clean-up in accordance with our regulations,” Brian Walsh, environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said.
So far, the clean-up crew has recovered just 571 barrels of the spilt oil, but the company is coordinating with the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to speed up the clean-up process and determine a safe date for the facility to return to operation.
South Dakota regulators are worried about the leak since it is the third to occur in a decade, which is too many given the pipeline’s lifespan is 100 years. The state’s Public Utility Commission is currently awaiting the forensic analysis results from the spill to see whether any of the conditions it imposed on the pipeline’s operator, TransCanada, had been violated, one commission official told Reuters.
Meanwhile, a TransCanada official said he believed the leak was a sudden occurrence—instead of a gradual leak that allowed crude oil to soak into the ground. Speaking at a meeting of the Marshall County Committee—the county where the leak occurred—vice-president Erik Tatarchuk said that the leak occurred on a section of the pipeline that is four feet underground. The section will be cut and sent to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration where it will be analyzed.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…