Keystone Pipeline Spills 383,000 Gallons of Oil in North Dakota, Greenpeace Says Experts Predicted Leak

The Keystone pipeline's spill of 383,000 gallons of oil into North Dakota was predictable, environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement depicting the transport of fossil fuels as a risky venture.

The spill, which led the pipeline to shut down on Tuesday, occurred in the state's northeastern Walsh County. The pipeline, which is slated for a contentious expansion across the U.S., has a history of spills and in 2017 leaked 407,000 gallons into South Dakota.

"I wish I could say I was shocked, but a major spill from the Keystone pipeline is exactly what multiple experts predicted would happen. In fact, this is the fourth significant spill from the Keystone pipeline in less than 10 years of operation," Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist Tim Donaghy said in a statement about the spill.

"History has shown us time and again that there is no safe way to transport fossil fuels, and pipelines are no exception. In the last 10 years, U.S. pipeline spills have led to 20 fatalities, 35 injuries, $2.6 billion in costs and more than 34 million gallons spilled. New pipelines are locking us into carbon emissions that will push our climate past safe limits. That is not the future I want for my children."

TC Energy, which operates the pipeline, said in statement that oil had spread over 2,500 square yards but that it had not received reports of injuries or impacts on wildlife.

"Our emergency response team contained the impacted area, and oil has not migrated beyond the immediately affected area," the statement said.

Attempts to extend the pipeline through the U.S., bringing Canadian oil to East Coast refineries, has generated controversy since it was first proposed in 2008. Environmental groups have mounted extended protests against the extension and say the U.S. government did not adequately assess the threat the pipeline posed to the climate or communities located near its route, which would be affected by leaks.

Thousands of people demonstrated outside the White House in 2011 to convince President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline proposal. Though Obama did so, the operator again tried to gain federal approval for the project. Following a protracted process that wound through Congress and the Nebraska Supreme Court, Obama announced that the State Department would not permit the pipeline, saying that approving the project would undercut U.S. leadership in addressing climate change. Just days into his presidency, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to revive the Keystone XL project.

Indigenous and environmental groups quickly revived their opposition. In August, they sent a statement urging Democratic primary candidates to reverse "President Trump's reckless, unilateral action to approve a permit and stop the Keystone XL pipeline."

Later in the month, the Nebraska Supreme Court resolved a permit battle and approved the pipeline's path through the state.

Keystone XL
Indigenous leaders and climate activists protest bank funding for projects like the Keystone XL pipeline on May 8, 2017, in Seattle. JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images