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Local Farmer Expected Rushed TransCanada Work Would Lead to Smelly Keystone Leak

Not every Marshall County neighbor of the Keystone pipeline is as nonchalant about TransCanada’s latest prairie oil spill as the fellows quoted in yesterday’s  Aberdeen American News. KSFY talks to Marshall County farmer Kent Moeckly, who had plenty to say several years ago about TransCanada’s disregard for his concerns and his land, echoes the “we told you so” attitude going around in pipeline-opponent circles:

“Well, it’s like the other shoe dropping. We were told by a lot of people that when TransCanada put this thing in the ground that the conditions, it was sloppy, wet conditions, and they just drove it in cause in a hurry, time is money,” Marshall County Landowner Kent Moeckly said.

…”We had some educated people, engineers and that sort of thing that said thin wall, high pressure, hazardous liquid pipelines and then slamming it in the way they did and putting cement weights on it to hold in down in the water they were putting it in, in the trenches, they said how can something like this not happen?” Moeckly said [Kayleigh Schmidt, “Landowner near Keystone Pipeline Leak Says He Isn’t Surprised,” KSFY, 2017.11.17].

Apparently folks around the spill area are breathing in potentially toxic fumes:

The oil smell in the air is a big concern for area farmers.

“I wouldn’t want to be downwind of that smell very long because they tell us, the experts told us when this whole thing was happening that it’s very deadly, very poisonous and you just really need to stay away,” Moeckly said [Schmidt, 2017.11.17].

The smell apparently doesn’t bother Marshall County commissioner Paul Symens, who lives just a couple miles away. The former Democratic legislator is more worried about protestors than pipeliners:

“As far as danger to the public, there’s nothing where it is that’s a water issue. It won’t be mixing with any water.  It won’t be contaminating any wells; it won’t be doing of that,” Symens said.

…”One of my fears, if I had a fear, was if we had people coming in here to protest, to petition, to get in the way, and create other problems for the neighbors here that would be a problem. We haven’t had that to this point,” Symens said [Dan Santella, “Marshall County Commissioner: Oil Spill Not a Threat to Water,” KELO-TV, 2017.11.17].

In an update provided yesterday morning to DENR, TransCanada said it has “over 75 people supporting our incident response—specialists in environmental management, metallurgy, engineering, pipeline integrity and emergency response. TransCanada has mobilized a full complement of equipment on site including track hoes, earth movers, hydrovacs, bobcats, safety and emergency response equipment, vacuum trucks and high-powered lighting for around-the-clock operations.”


  1. mike from iowa 2017-11-18 13:27

    Oh boy. Let me ask County Commisioner Symens a question. The pipeline was put in in wet conditions. Rain water and snow melt soak into the ground as does oil. Where does the water go to if not an acquifer or wells or a nearby watershed?. If it just stayed there the ground would never dry out. It has to go somewhere. Where water goes oil can go. Unless science has changed over the years since Drumpf was installed as Commisar.

  2. Chuck-Z 2017-11-18 13:50

    Do protesters generally show up for leaks and contamination? I would think the spill itself should stand as the wake up call, it’s probably not necessary to show up with signs that have arrows pointing the problem. What kind of city official is more concerned about protesters showing up than the safety of the water supply? This is truly some bizarre brainwashing stuff. It really makes me wonder if the next generations will wise up, or fall in line for the corporations.

  3. Lillian Anderson 2017-11-18 15:02

    We tried and tried to get a fund to help for this very situation. The republican congress wouldn’t let it out of committee so they didn’t have to have a vote on record. There won’t be any roads left. The little county and township roads were not made for such heavy equipment. The fund could have helped with that. Traffic is over 400 % of normal. What has leaked down into soil that won’t be known until people start getting unusual diseases? Who will be responsible then?

  4. mike from iowa 2017-11-19 08:21

    5000 barrels in 15 minutes is one hell of a leak. Public relations at work, I guess.

    Who will be responsible then? I’m afraid it doesn’t matter who is responsible. Ain’t nothing gonna happen to them until people start caring more about the land than korporate amerika cares about profits.

    All this goo needs to be scraped up and dumped on korporate headquarters and make them clean it up.

  5. Chuck-Z 2017-11-19 11:20

    Does TransCanada in any way work this into their job creation numbers?

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-19 14:02

    Chuck-Z, you’re right about protestors. A spill site isn’t a good protest opportunity. Protestors are as interested as everyone else in ensuring that the oil gets cleaned up. No one wants to get in the way of that process.

    Job creation—Well, Suzie Easthouse of the Front Porch in Langford is getting full-time work out of the spill feeding the cleanup crew.

  7. Rorschach 2017-11-19 15:40

    I wouldn’t expect protesters at the spill site, but if they did show up in great numbers it would cost the county a ton of money in law enforcement and perhaps other costs. It sounds like that was more of a thought that crossed County Commissioner Symens’ mind rather than a concern.

    People can protest as much as they want. It would just be nice if they would clean up their own messes. Those North Dakota protesters left one hell of a mess behind for taxpayers to clean up. Hopefully taxpayers won’t be picking up the tab for this spill like they have done for previous environmental disasters perpetrated by financially irresponsible corporations in the black hills and elsewhere.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-19 15:50

    Protest doesn’t cost law enforcement anything if law enforcement doesn’t go harassing and arresting law-abiding protestors.

  9. mike from iowa 2017-11-19 16:22

    I doubt Trach-Can is under any legal obligation to pay for cleanup. Dilbit isn’t taxed as crude oil is.

    They aren’t making much on dilbit with prices low and clean up costs will hurt their bottom line.

  10. Lil 2017-11-19 17:33

    We are now at 600,000 gallons. Any bets on how the number will go. Release a smaller number that stays in DENR report. Looks better for future information requests

  11. W R Old Guy 2017-11-19 20:08

    I see that TransCanada has sent more crews to the site bringing the total to 150 personnel.

    I suspect the amount will rise and we may never know how much was spilled. I would think that a break rather than a pinhole leak happened because of the noted drop on pressure. I don’t know how far apart the isolation valves are but consider the possibility of siphoning of the oil to the break after the valves are closed.

    A 36″ diameter pipe holds about 53 gal per foot so a mile of pipe would hold around 280,000 gallons. There are a lot of variables to consider such as pipeline pressure at the time, terrain and soil type at the spill site.

  12. jerry 2017-11-19 20:33

    Can any kind of suit be filed against the PUC on a FOIA to get to the bottom of what we all know will be a major spill?

  13. grudznick 2017-11-19 20:52

    You might have Mr. H file his lawsuit against the Environmental people that Mr. Pay used to work for. I don’t think the Utilities people deal with spills. The water lovers and dirt diggers do. They protect all the fishes from the bad things. It would likely be they who you need to demand paperwork and secret reports from

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