EDINBURG, N.D. —The Keystone Pipeline oil spill in Walsh County has released 9,120 barrels, or 383,040 gallons, of oil into a wetlands area, the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday, Oct. 31.
North Dakota officials and crews from TC Energy were on the site of an oil spill in Walsh County resulting from a leak from the Keystone Pipeline Wednesday, Oct. 30.
As of Wednesday evening, the oil had not migrated beyond the immediately affected area of about 2,500 square yards in a rural wetland area 3 miles northwest of Edinburg, according to a release by TC Energy. Representatives from TC Energy could not immediately be reached for comment, but they are continuing to work with NDDEQ personnel to determine the cause of the spill, according to a release from NDDEQ.
The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality confirmed a leak from the pipeline has resulted in an oil spill in a rural area 3 miles northwest of Edinburg. According to the Walsh County Sheriff's Office, the first report came from TC Energy at 5:42 a.m.
Walsh County Emergency Manager Brent Nelson said the spill is contained to a wetland and has affected an area where a local farmer cuts hay.
While officials said the spill is contained and had not contaminated drinking water, TC Energy had yet to fix the leak as of Wednesday afternoon. The company said it had shut down the pipeline to address the issue.
Karl Rockeman, director of the division of water quality for North Dakota's health department, also confirmed that the pipeline had been shut down at the point of release.
“At this time there is no indication that it has impacted anybody’s drinking water,” he said. “It appears to (be) contained within the area.”
Calgary, Alberta-based TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, is working to determine the cause of the release and how much oil has spilled. The company confirmed that officials from its emergency management, engineering and environmental management divisions are responding to the scene of the incident.
TC Energy said it first became aware of the release after an operations control center detected a drop in pressure at around 10:20 p.m. on Oct. 29. The company then notified state and federal regulators, including the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the National Response Center (NRC).
The company said its crews will do the assessments and remove the visible oil and the affected soil if needed to reach the problem in the pipeline. North Dakota environmental quality representatives are also on-site and will continue to monitor the investigation and remediation.
"(Cleanup) crews are just arriving late this afternoon with equipment to ... clean, access the pipe and begin repair work," Nelson said. "I do not have an ETA at this time, but was told it will take a few months for the entire process to be completed."]
The roads around the spill area have been closed to assist with the cleanup. Walsh County Sheriff Ronald Jurgens asks the public to avoid the area so the cleanup process can proceed.
Walsh County Sheriff Ron Jurgens said his department is primarily working to enable NDDEQ and TC Energy to do their jobs by enforcing road closures and managing protesters, though he said there have yet to be any protests at the site.
While he said it's unclear exactly how long the area will be closed to traffic, Jurgens said residents can expect road closures for the foreseeable future.
"I'm sure it'll be months instead of weeks," he said.
Kandi Mosset-White, Native Energy and Climate Campaign coordinator for the Bemidji-based Indigenous Environmental Network, said her organization is still considering their steps forward in the wake of the news of the spill. She said, for her personally, every new spill makes her want to continue to step up the pressure against oil pipelines.
"We shouldn't become complacent," she said. "It's not OK that these things happen. It's not OK that there's a spill, that even when a company tells us that they have the highest technology available, it still fails. People shouldn't be OK with that."
On-site security will stop and fine any driver ignoring the closed road signs.