TransCanada shut down part of its Keystone pipeline after an oil leak of about 5,000 barrels (about 795,000 litres) Thursday in Marshall County, South Dakota.
The pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma and to Wood River/Patoka, Illinois “is expected to remain shut down as we respond to this incident,” the Calgary-based company said in a statement.
The leak occurred just a few days before the Nebraska Public Service Commission is scheduled to make a Nov. 20th announcement of its decision on whether to approve a permit to allow construction of the controversial long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.
The leak was detected after a drop in pressure in the operating system. The section of pipe along a right-of-way approximately 56 kilometres south of the Ludden pump station in Marshall County, South Dakota was completely isolated within 15 minutes and emergency response procedures were activated, it said.
“Crews, including TransCanada specialists from emergency management, engineering, environmental management and safety as well as contracted, nationally-recognized experts are assessing the situation,” the company said.
The shutdown did not affect the Marketlink pipeline system, which uses the facilities of the southern leg of the Keystone system from Cushing to the Gulf Coast.
This is the second significant leak on Keystone over the past two years. In April 2016, TransCanada shut down the pipeline after a local resident reported seeing oil seeping to the surface in South Dakota.
The line is less than 10 years old and began commercial operations in June 2010.
The Keystone XL pipeline got federal U.S. approval in March when President Donald Trump overturned former President Barack Obama's rejection of the project in 2015. It already had been approved by most of the states along the route. Nebraska was the last hurdle.
In Canada, TransCanada reported 21 incidents during the first year of operation, mainly small quantities of oil being spilled near pump stations and later cleaned up.
In the U.S., the federal watchdog for the industry - the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration - alleged that the company had failed to operate Keystone safely after identifying 62 probable deficiencies on the pipeline, including "multiple anomalies" near St-Louis, Missouri.