Transcanada estimates that Keystone's Southeastern South Dakota segment leaked 16,800 and not 187 gallons of oil, leading the company to indefinitely shut down the pipeline.

The oil spill was discovered by a landowner on April 2, about 4 miles from the Freeman pump station In Hutchinson County.

On April 7, Transcanada reported the incident to the National Response Center and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration as required by law. The company said the estimate was based on an observation of the soil around 100 feet of exposed pipe in the potential area affected.

Although about 100 workers, including specialists and regulators, are now working at the site, the cause of the leak has not been pinpointed at this point. Transcanada spokesman Mark Cooper, however, assures the public that the leak has been contained and that no major impact on the environment and public safety is expected.

The Keystone pipeline has been in service since 2010 and can transport 550,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The pipeline starts from Alberta, Canada and runs through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri before reaching refineries in Illinois and Cushing, Oklahoma.

When it started operations, Transcanada gave assurances of the company's capability to manage leaks because it had advanced leak detection technologies. But in its first year, the line leaked 35 times along pipes in the Canada-U.S. route.

A major leak occurred near a wheat field in North Dakota spilling about 20,600 gallons of oil. The Freeman leak is the largest in South Dakota pipeline history.

Environmentalists are already reacting. In a statement, Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network campaign organizer, expressed how he fears the effects of the spill.

"Our waters, lands and communities cannot continue to be the sacrifice zones for Big Oil's game for money. We pray for the land waters surrounding this spill site, and we hope that our elected leaders understand the safest way we can prevent such accidents is for us to Keep Fossil Fuel In The Ground."

How long the line is going to be down will depend on the men on the ground, but the more important concern is the safety of communities living along the Keystone pipeline.

Photo: Shannon Ramos | Flickr

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