'Small' leak identified on Keystone Pipeline near Freeman

FREEMAN -- Keystone Pipeline is set to re-start Saturday after TransCanada crews identified what they term a "small" leak on the pipeline near its Freeman pump station.

FREEMAN -- Keystone Pipeline is set to re-start Saturday after TransCanada crews identified what they term a “small” leak on the pipeline near its Freeman pump station.  

A news release on Friday afternoon from TransCanada said it has been given conditional approval by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to resume delivering crude oil on the Keystone Pipeline system Saturday once the leak is repaired.

“We expect to be at full operation by end of day tomorrow,” the release says.

TransCanada said crews excavated soil to expose more than 275 feet of pipe in order to find the leak.

“As we have said previously, there is no significant environmental impact observed and no threat to public safety,” the release says.


TransCanada’s pipeline had been turned off since the leak was reported Saturday, and crews have been working “around the clock” on-site at the property of Loren Schultz, of rural Freeman, about 4 miles from its Freeman pump station in Hutchinson County. On Thursday, TransCanada estimated that 400 barrels of oil, or 16,800 gallons, were leaked out of the pipeline.

As part of the conditional re-start, TransCanada said it will operate the pipeline at a reduced pressure “to ensure it is functioning appropriately and meeting the conditions set out by PHMSA.” TransCanada also said it will conduct aerial patrols and visual inspections during the restart.

“TransCanada appreciates the support of impacted landowners, community members and local authorities who have collaborated to ensure our crews are able to continue their work,” the release says. “TransCanada also appreciates the understanding demonstrated by its customers as we worked to ensure we resolved this incident as quickly and safely as possible.”

The Keystone pipeline runs from Alberta to Texas, running through eastern North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska in the Midwest.

The spill comes five months after the federal government rejected TransCanada's proposal to build their Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would have passed through western South Dakota, amid environmental fears.

The Indigenous Environmental Network and Dakota Rural Action, groups both opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline, issued statements this week saying the spill shows their concerns are valid.

“This spill is heart-breaking. This is exactly the reason why we fought so hard against the Keystone XL pipeline and why we continue to fight against new pipeline projects, such as the Dakota Access,” said Indigenous Environmental Network Campaign Organizer Dallas Goldtooth. “Our waters, lands, and communities cannot continue to be the sacrifice zones for Big Oil’s game for more money. We pray for the land and 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 Fuels In The Ground.”

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