ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

OUR VIEW: Pipeline leak proves need for caution

You may recall that the crude-oil pipeline passes through eastern South Dakota on its route from the tar sands oil fields in Canada to refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.

You may recall that the crude-oil pipeline passes through eastern South Dakota on its route from the tar sands oil fields in Canada to refineries in Illinois, Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.

When the pipeline was proposed for construction a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about the potential for leaks and the resulting impact on land, water and other natural resources. The project won approval from regulatory agencies in South Dakota and elsewhere, and after it was constructed the debate seemed to fade.

Then, on Saturday, a bad valve at a pumping station in North Dakota gave way, sending crude oil spewing into the air. The leak totaled about 500 barrels, which equates to about 21,000 gallons.

Later reports said most of the oil was contained by a berm, though some "oil mist" had to be cleaned from standing water in a nearby field.

As far as we can tell, people in North Dakota are generally pleased with the protections that were in place and the response of TransCanada Corp., which owns the pipeline.

ADVERTISEMENT

In an Associated Press report, however, a commissioner in the county where the leak occurred said this: "I have to confess: I did not anticipate that we would have a problem this soon."

The leak should remind us all that no man-made device is fail-safe, and all reasonable precautions must be taken to make sure potential harms are minimized. The greater the risk, the greater the precaution needed.

We feel the same way as the county commissioner in North Dakota. While we're glad TransCanada appears to have handled the leak well and the damage to the environment was minimal, we're alarmed to be hearing about problems just a year after the pipeline became operational.

TransCanada is proposing to run another pipeline through western South Dakota. We hope the regulators in South Dakota, other affected states and at the federal level take note of last weekend's Keystone leak. It doesn't necessarily mean the company's next project should be rejected, but it is a reminder of the grave risks that come with pipelines and the need for serious scrutiny during the permitting process.

What To Read Next
You don’t see many straight-forward apologies by elected officials these days.
It wasn’t just the students where he made an impact. He was active at community events and consistently looked for areas that needed improvement, which is a fantastic quality in a leader.
I’m 79 years old now, but when I walk down the street in my hometown, I still have people stop me to gush about Marie Woster and how she played piano.
Once there, Summit claims, the CO2 will be “‘permanently and safely stored underground.’”