About 383,000 gallons (1.4 million liters) of oil has leaked out into the environment from the controversial Keystone Pipeline system. It is the second significant Keystone Pipeline leak in the past two years along the line that transports Canadian tar sands oil 2,600 miles from Canada then southward into the United States. This particular oil leak occurred with the Keystone 1 Pipeline that runs in the northeast region of North Dakota.

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Once the leak was discovered, crews of the Alberta-based company TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, shut down the leak to investigate the cause. “Our emergency response team contained the impacted area and oil has not migrated beyond the immediately affected area,” the company said in a statement.

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The volume of oil released from this recent spill measured approximately 9,120 barrels, which is roughly half the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. No sources of drinking water were affected by the leak, according to North Dakota regulators. The spill affected about 2,500 square yards of land, and its occurrence is once again sparking heated debate about pipeline expansion plans.

There has long been debate over the expansion of the Keystone system, particularly from American environmental and indigenous groups. Environmentalists, for instance, have argued against the extraction of crude oil from oil sands. Compared to traditional oil, tar sands oil is more acidic, more corrosive, much thicker and stickier, thereby complicating cleanup efforts should a spill or leak ever occur. Plus, the thicker consistency means this type of oil will have to be combined with other hazardous materials to permit it to be transported via the pipelines, again elevating associated risks. Naturally, these increased risks incited objections from those concerned about environmental impacts should a spill or leak happen, because the pipeline cuts across Native American lands as well as important underground deposits of freshwater.

This recent leak in North Dakota was not part of the Keystone XL extension project, which, incidentally, is not yet fully operational.

Via Seattle Times

Image via Shannon Patrick