Several days after an oil pipeline near Kalamazoo, Michigan leaked crude oil into the Kalamazoo River, news is spreading that TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline caused a spill in South Dakota over a month ago.

According to the spill report, 100 gallons of crude oil leaked near the Roswell pump station.  TransCanada spokesman Jeff Rauh explained that a maintenance crew was performing routine work on a sump to check for problems with the equipment.  The inspection revealed that the equipment was faulty when it sprayed oil for 3 seconds and stopped when the crew shut the station down.  So far 80 gallons of oil have been cleaned up.

Well TransCanada may laud this incident as proof of their commitment to safety, it’s hardly reassuring that their equipment was experiencing problems before the pipeline was operational.  Yes it’s good that they caught the problem before 700,000 barrels of oil was being pumped through the pipeline on a daily basis.  But that equipment will slowly wear down day by day, and a leak is inevitable.

Even TransCanada admits that.  According to their own experts, the chance of a leak is once every 7,400 years per mile of pipeline.  Because they want to expand and build the Keystone XL that means we can expect even more leaks across the country.  The Keystone XL would stretch 1,379.5 miles across the US which means we can expect a leak in just that pipeline every 8.7 years.

Bottom line, leaks happen.  It’s not if, it’s when.

Are we willing to take the risk? Are we ready for a spill to hit home? What is the price tag we are willing to put on the Ogallala Aquifer?


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