In today's Aberdeen American News, we read in Shannon Marvel's SD utilities commissioner 'deeply disturbed' by Keystone leak:
A South Dakota utilities commissioner is "semi surprised and deeply disturbed" by a 210,000-gallon oil leak discovered last week from TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline in Marshall County.
Commissioner Gary Hanson was a member of the state Public Utilities Commission that in Marcy 2008 approved the permit for TransCanada Corp. to construct the Keystone Pipeline.
"This is a relatively new pipeline. It is supposed to have an operating life of more than 100 years and it was supposed to be a state-of-the-art pipeline construction. It appears that it is not," Hanson said by phone Monday.
"We've had three fairly major leaks just on the border with North Dakota and two in South Dakota in a very short period of time," Hanson said. "One might expect this to take place on a pipeline over a period of 30 or 40 years at the maximum, yet it's been fewer than 10 years."
An April 2016 Keystone Pipeline leak near Freeman spilled 16,800 gallons of oil.
"Leaks are certainly unacceptable. We understand that leaks will take place. I made this statement during the permitting process in 2007 when I was asked by the news media, I said 'yes the pipe will leak in a lifetime, one expects that a leak will probably take place in a lifetime greater than 100 years'. But certainly one does not expect three leaks to take place in less than a decade. So it is very disturbing."
Read the rest of that hot mess at the Aberdeen American News. Via the same source, the Associated Press reports in TransCanada to test water in drainage ditch near spill:
A state official says TransCanada Corp. plans to test water from a drainage ditch near the Marshall County site of a 210,000-gallon oil spill from the Keystone pipeline to determine if it is polluted.
Brian Walsh, a manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said Monday that officials don't believe the oil is polluting the ditch or leaving the spill site through it.
Walsh says there's no visible oil in the ditch. He says TransCanada environmental contractors will collect water for sampling Monday if ice in the ditch melts. . . .
This item appears to contradict an earlier Associated Press report published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune over the weekend in TransCanada sends more crews to Keystone pipeline leak:
Company spokesman Terry Cunha said Sunday that about 150 people are now at the site. Cunha said a gravel road has been completed to handle heavy equipment.
Cunha said a drainage ditch near the leak was protected by a berm and not polluted by the spill. State officials earlier said they did not believe the spill has polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems. A drainage ditch is clearly visible in aerial footage taken by DroneBase on Friday.
Having visited the area of the site on Sunday--as we reported late that evening in Public barred from Keystone pipeline spill site; geological & water surveys offer clues to impact--we're puzzled that TransCanada had first reassured the public that none of the oil entered the drainage ditch, then later told the press that it would test the water once the ice melted.
While the Crow Creek drainage ditch was covered by ice at the point it went under 114th Street in rural Amherst (about one or two miles downstream of the spill if our plat book is to be believed) the relatively warm weather seemed to allow water to flow under the ice when we stopped and looked. We're not sure what TransCanada was waiting for.
Here's that ditch again:
Drainage ditch northeast of Keystone Pipeline oil spill. pic.twitter.com/Ve2cBXEtYC— Sally Jo Sorensen (@sallyjos) November 19, 2017
It was pretty warm yesterday, so we hope they got that sample, given the cold front that's come through. (It's 18F and pretty windy in Summit, on the east side of the Coteau des Prairies.
Here's the page from the SWO tribal plat book of this part of Marshall County; the Marshall County section of the Lake Traverse Reservation is east of this point. The spill is in Weston Township, southeast of the town of Amherst. The famous section of drainage ditch captured in the drone photo is the thin blue line in the lower right part of Weston Township.
Perhaps it was a lot colder closer to the spill, but courteous law enforcement personnel were not allowed to let us any closer than the nearest roadblocks.
Visiting Agency Village on the Lake Traverse Reservation Monday, Bluestem overheard three elders discuss the situation. Reflecting on the statements TransCanada had given the public via the press, they wondered whether TransCanada had started to hand out candy to the kids playing in the totally safe and contained oil spill.
Vine Deloria Jr once wrote of Indian humor [pdf], "The more desperate the problem, the more humor is directed to describe it."
Photos: Drone view of the spill (top); Our photo of the drainage ditch (middle); Western Marshall County map, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe Lake Traverse Reservation Atlas 2017. The Atlas is available from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe Fish and Wildlife Office.
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