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TransCanada Leak Twice as Big as Originally Reported

Donald Trump hates lying leakers, but he hasn’t said anything about TransCanada’s underreporting of how much oil it spilled from the Keystone pipeline in Marshall County:

The amount of crude oil that leaked from a pipeline in Marshall County is nearly twice as much as originally believed.

Some 9,700 barrels of oil escaped into farmland near Amherst when the Keystone Pipeline broke the morning of Nov. 16. That total is according to Robynn Tysver, a spokeswoman with TransCanada, the owner of the line.

The original estimate was 5,000 barrels [Shannon Marvel, “Marshall Pipeline Leak Almost Twice Size of Early Estimates,” Aberdeen American News, 2018.04.07].

Marvel writes the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s preliminary report on the Marshall County spill says that TransCanada has spent $9.57 million cleaning up its mess. In a summary of private firm Burns and McDonnell’s February groundwater monitoring report, DENR’s Brian Walsh says the groundwater at the site is pretty clean:

Brian J. Walsh, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, "Burns and McDonnell's Groundwater Monitoring Report, February 2018," DENR File #2017.204—TransCanada Keystone—Amherst—Pipeline Release, 2018.02.27.
Brian J. Walsh, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, “Burns and McDonnell’s Groundwater Monitoring Report, February 2018,” DENR File #2017.204—TransCanada Keystone—Amherst—Pipeline Release, 2018.02.27.

Walsh reported TransCanada finished “major contaminated soil hauling activities” on February 13. Total soil removed contaminated soil removed as of that day was 4,710 cubic yards—at about 20 cubic yards per load, that’s about 236 truck trips. Three of those truck trips are known to have screwed something up, meaning their haulers had about a 99% good safety rating. But given that Transcanada’s numbers are always off, we’ll probably learn from them later that their truckers safety rate was actually twice as large, 198%.


  1. mike from iowa 2018-04-08 08:59

    Dang it, you beat me. Just found this on Reuter’s site- Robynn Tysver, a spokeswoman for Calgary-based TransCanada Corp, which owns the pipeline, told the Aberdeen American News some 9,700 barrels of oil leaked in the Nov. 16 spill, the South Dakota paper reported. The original estimate was 5,000 barrels.

    Makes this the largest US spill since 2010?

  2. jerry 2018-04-08 09:24

    PUC has given up the rules on how to fool the citizens of South Dakota. The utility companies ask for double of what they need knowing that the PUC will approve half, which is what they wanted in the first place. Then PUC will act all tall in the saddle and tell us rubes the great job they are doing keeping the utility companies in check. This shows that the Oil spill companies can just say 1/2 of what spilled to shut locals up and then claim to a figure twice that amount which is actually just 1/4 of what was actually spilled. As the spill happened so many months ago, most have forgotten it even happened and want to put more pipe in the ground. Truth is closer to 18,000 barrels of crude. Ground water reports of being pretty clean actually mean total contamination in PUC speak. All fits nicely into having a state government that is totally controlled by corruption in one party rule… until you can use your tap water when you change oil in your machinery.

  3. John 2018-04-08 10:33

    Could someone closer to the spill ascertain other costs:
    -how many acres of potential cropping is lost (based on recent use, based on highest value);
    -for how long is there a likely cropping loss;
    -what property tax adjustment is appropriate for owning a hazardous waste site, verses the former cropland;
    -what costs arise from having to secure alternate water sources for crops, for livestock, for human consumption;
    -it’s likely there are other costs we missed.
    Thanks to anyone closer to the spill for tackling the greater direct and indirect costs.
    Hauling away contaminated soil is the easy beginning of the costs.

  4. John 2018-04-08 10:39

    We should not oppose all pipelines or all pipeline proposals.
    But we MUST insist that pipeline design, construction, and operation pass 6-sigma standards (essentially statistically they won’t rupture or leak). If one cannot make them that way then return to engineering and business school.
    Pipelines must be in infrastructure corridors; and not allow every new proposal to “draw its own line on a map”.
    We must insist there is cash bonding enough to pay direct and indirect costs for a failure.

  5. mike from iowa 2018-04-08 12:46

    Owen, Donald Pay or anyone else with knowledge of government stuff- is there somewhere a citizen can look to see if Trash-Can is paying 9 cents per barrel cleanup tax on crude oil since they claimed this one was crude oil and not dil-bit?

    I’d love to know why they trucked crude oil to a hazardous waste site in ND when the dil-bit spilage was sent to a site in Minnesota that claimed they didn’t handle haz waste.

  6. mike from iowa 2018-04-08 12:48

    John, the EPA under Drumpf is rolling back fuel economy on vehicles and the car makers are gleeful because they can build larger, gas guzzlers and not worry about environmental protections. More profit is the bottom line.

  7. jerry 2018-04-08 12:55

    John, near Clark, South Dakota, people are raising hell over wind chargers, same in other proposed areas of South Dakota. You cannot think of the future when old farts are stuck in the past. 12 people shouting at a meeting, means that the project cannot go further. Democracy? Not here.

  8. jerry 2018-04-08 15:03

    mfi, speaking of overblown, that perfectly mirrors Rounds.

  9. jerry 2018-04-08 15:38

    Transcanada has run into a big old buzzsaw down in Texas building a pipeline to Mexico. Those boys down there get all serious like when you mess with Texas. In South Dakota, it is easy to pull the wool over the eyes of the PUC. Not so in Texas, we could learn a little from those republican ag folks there.

  10. Jake 2018-04-08 20:16

    “It probably happened during construction of the line”!! If they can’t build it right to start with why build at all?

  11. Debbo 2018-04-08 21:33

    So if an oil company reports a leak, it seems that the sensible thing to do is triple or quadruple the amount they report because lying is the norm and they have no honor or decency? Got it.

    Where I live in east central Minnesota the wind, okay, breeze, is rarely above 10 mph. But I grew up with 15-20 mph wind being the daily norm in central and western SD. SD has the potential for a great crop that they adamantly refuse to harvest. They’d rather let it rot on the vine year after year after year. It’s just bizarre and sad.

    SD and other poor and isolated states are incredibly adept at being their own worst enemies. I’d love to read psychologists’ theories about that because it’s so strange.

  12. Loren 2018-04-08 21:37

    Can someone refresh my memory? When was the last time an oil/gas/coal/energy company did NOT under-report a spill or leak? Thank goodness we have an EPA… or, at least, we used to have an EPA.

  13. jerry 2018-04-09 03:06

    Yep, you got it Ms. Debbo. If a pipeline company declares a leak, whatever “estimate” they give to the public, quadruple it. Lying is indeed the normal behavior from the president of the USA (over 2,000 confirmed lies and counting daily) to the bozo’s we have at the PUC. This way you can kind of keep up with the game of bull$#!+ they are playing, else you would not be able to keep score.

    We even have a senator that was the governor of South Dakota that was even involved with the grand theft of over a 100 million from taxpayers in the EB5 lie-athon. Put that in the question to psychologists theory questionnaire as well. Move over Stockholm syndrome and make room for the roypublican/corrupt syndrome.

  14. Jason 2018-06-26 12:24

    How is that huge oil train spill going Mike? 230,000 gallons of oil into the river. I can’t believe Cory never mentioned it.

  15. Porter Lansing 2018-06-26 13:28

    Debbo asks … “SD and other poor and isolated states are incredibly adept at being their own worst enemies. I’d love to read psychologists’ theories about that because it’s so strange.”
    Psychologists say … People don’t do too well when things become complex. The current problems in our society are quite complex and can often seem overwhelming. Simpler is easier. They just don’t see the whole system and all the connections, causes and effects. A remarkable number of people do not even know what they want or even need. They are just listening to other voices.

  16. mike from iowa 2018-06-26 16:55

    Talked to a Sioux County resident in town today. He says the flood waters washed away the road bed and the train drove into the water with no clew there was a problem.

    One would think that maybe flood water on both sides of the track might be an indication for caution or something.

    Jason, are you cheering for EPA in this one? Protecting the environment is what they don’t do under stoopid freaking wingnut bogus potii.

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