Keystone Coating Inspected Near Spill Site
According to a local newspaper, part of TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline is being unearthed for external inspections over concerns about possible damage to the decade-old oil pipeline's coating.
The Aberdeen American News reported July 31 that officials confirmed at least one section of the pipeline north of Britton, South Dakota, was being dug up for inspection. Britton is just miles from Amherst, where a rupture last November resulted in the release of upwards of 9,000 barrels of oil.
The NTSB concluded in early July that the Amherst rupture was the result of damage from construction equipment when the line was installed in 2008; the area of the rupture showed evidence of groove marks that indicate the pipe was run over with a metal-tracked vehicle. The coating around the grooved areas was damaged.
While early media reports indicated the excavation and inspection were ordered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, sources at the PHMSA tell PaintSquare Daily News the work is voluntary on TransCanada's part and not the result of a government order. The agency's corrective action order issued last year in the wake of the spill did not call for excavation of the pipeline beyond the immediate area of the rupture.
A TransCanada representative told the Assocated Press the inspection is "standard" and part of the company's regular battery of routine tests. A South Dakota official told the news agency there is no known damage to the line where it is being inspected.
The November spill was originally reported to have involved a 5,000-barrel release, but later reports indicated that the spill was more than 9,000 barrels; the PHMSA's online database now indicates that 9,726 barrels were released, causing more than $24 million in property damage.
News of the new inspections came just as the U.S. State Department released a new draft environmental impact statement on TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would follow parts of the existing Keystone right-of-way, indicating that the planned pipeline would have a minimal impact on the environment and cultural resources.