(Natural News) As many environmentalists and local Native American tribes feared, a massive leak of some 210,000 gallons, or about 5,000 barrels, of oil has occurred along a section of the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota, making it the largest-ever spill.
The company quietly announced via a November 16 tweet that it is “currently responding to an incident in Amherst, SD.”
“We have activated emergency response procedures and dispatched ground crews to assess the situation,” the tweet continued.
As reported by Circa News, the company said it shut the pipeline down around 6 a.m. CST on Thursday after employees said they saw a drop in pressure.
We are currently responding to an incident in Amherst, SD. We have activated emergency response procedures and dispatched ground crews to assess the situation. https://t.co/oFyyU5YYo0
— TransCanada (@TransCanada) November 16, 2017
The spill is the largest Keystone leak to have occurred to date in South Dakota, according to a spokesman from the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Brian Walsh, in an interview with CNN.
The network reported that the leak was discovered just days before Nebraska officials are set to announce a decision as to whether the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is a related project, can move forward.
Because of the pending nature of that decision, some have speculated that perhaps the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota was sabotaged in an effort to influence Nebraska officials into deciding against extending the pipeline project into their state.
The spill also occurred as Native American tribes in the Dakotas renew their efforts to protect natural water supplies against the potential that they could be contaminated by the recently completed Dakota Access Pipeline.
Attorneys for the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes have filed papers in federal court Wednesday asking a judge to reconsider their proposals regarding the pipeline, which federal officials and pipeline developers have said were not needed.
That said, Walsh told CNN that the section of pipeline where the leak occurred was buried.
“It is a below-ground pipeline, but some oil has surfaced above ground to the grass,” Walsh said. “It will be a few days until they can excavate and get in borings to see if there is groundwater contamination.”
There were no initial reports that any oil had leached into surrounding waterways or water systems.
“The safety of the public and environment are our top priorities and we will continue to provide updates as they become available,” the company said in a statement. (Related: Oil pipelines vs. rail transport: The statistics on spills vs. safety point to a clear winner.)
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently monitoring the situation and will provide assistance as required, a spokesman for the agency told CNN.
“EPA is aware of the spill and is receiving periodic updates from the state of South Dakota, which is overseeing response activity at the spill site,” he said.
As Natural News reported in December 2016, local Native American tribes’ worse fears were realized when a pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of oil into a creek just 150 miles from the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota:
A North Dakota pipeline spill has released many tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into a nearby creek, just two and a half hours away from Cannon Ball, ND, where activists have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for months.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux, along with allies in the environmental movement from around the country, had been speaking out against the pipeline for months, having rallied together to fight its construction on grounds leaks from the pipeline would pollute groundwater sources and water systems.
At the time, North Dakota officials estimated that 176,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from the Belle Fourth pipeline into nearby Ash Coulee Creek, near the city of Belfield — which was about 150 miles from the location of DAPL protest camps.
J. D. Heyes is also editor-in-chief of TheNationalSentinel.com.