On Nov. 16, the Keystone Pipeline suffered a major spill in South Dakota, and thusly doing exactly what the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters feared would happen.
An oil spill that no doubt heavily damaged the agricultural land it flooded onto Aberdeen, South Dakota, the site of the spill, is just under three hours east of Standing Rock Reservation, where last year’s protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline took place.
As many recall, the Standing Rock protests focused on both the preservation of the Sioux tribe’s treaties with the U.S. government and the environmental impact of running the pipeline under the Missouri River.
The Missouri River is the source of water for many residents in the United States, as well as one of the major rivers that feeds into the Mississippi River. And the spill happened just over one and a half hours from the Missouri River.
The horrible irony of the situation is not lost here.
A major oil spill, 5,000 barrels of oil (or 210,000 gallons), seeped out of what was supposed to be a secure pipeline, and covering what were once crop fields with crude oil.
For an estimate of just how many gallons of crude oil are now covering a farmer’s land, there are roughly 660,430 gallons of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Just under one-third of that amount is what was lost in the leak.
There will be, without a doubt, a lasting impact in this area because of the spill. Wildlife, crops and the wetlands surrounding the spill will suffer from the pollution of the crude oil.
And this isn’t the first time this pipeline has leaked in South Dakota, either. In 2016 and 2011, there were two oil spills, each totaling about 400 barrels worth. Combined, those two leaks equal to about 16 percent of the most recent leaked oil.
According to Reuters, in South Dakota alone, the pipeline was projected to not leak “more than once every 41 years,” and in the last six years, it has leaked three times.
This reaffirms the fears of the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, as President Donald Trump backed (but former President Barack Obama rejected) a new pipeline, Keystone XL, under construction. If TransCanada, owners of both the original Keystone and the XL pipelines, can barely stop one line from spilling, who is to say they can stop another?
During Obama’s term, he rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. He cited the environmental risks outweighed the potential “benefits.” Trump, however, approved it — probably only because Obama rejected it. Seemingly, this has been the trend of the current administration: doing away with legislation that was created during the Obama years.
After this spill, it is plain as day why the XL was initially rejected: it is just not safe. If the XL Pipeline or the Dakota Access burst the way the Keystone just did, the nation will have a serious problem on its hands.