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Keystone Pipeline Spilled 407K Gallons in South Dakota, Double Previous Estimate
TransCanada's Keystone crude oil pipeline leaked 9,700 barrels (407,400 gallons) on rural farmland near the city of Amherst last year—nearly twice the original estimate of 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons), a company spokeswoman told the Aberdeen American News.
The Nov. 16 incident was already considered the largest spill in South Dakota, but its new estimate makes it the seventh largest inland spill in the whole U.S. since 2010, the South Dakota publication noted.
TransCanada shut down the 590,000 barrel-per-day pipeline, which runs from Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas, immediately after detecting a pressure drop in their operating system. Operations restarted about two weeks later. Federal investigators said construction damage when the pipeline was built in 2008 was likely to blame.
Repairs and cleanup efforts have since been made. The Calgary-based energy company said there was no impact to groundwater based on its own sampling.
"We have replaced the last of the topsoil and have seeded the impacted area," the TransCanada spokeswoman told American News.
The spill drew fierce outcry from environmentalists and pipeline opponents, especially as it happened just days before Nebraska's Public Service Commission would decide on whether its controversial sister project—the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline—will go forward.
"We need to stop all expansion of extreme fossil fuels such as tar sands oil—and we need the finance community to stop funding these preventable climate disasters—disasters for the climate, the environment and Indigenous rights," Scott Parkin, Rainforest Action Network's Organizing Director, said then.
The regulators ultimately approved the KXL's "mainline alternative route" later that November. President Trump overturned President Obama's rejection of the KXL by signing an executive order in March 2016 to help push the project forward.
The leak occurred near the Lake Traverse Reservation, a region covered with wetlands and home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Many of its tribal members were on the ground during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
"My greatest concern is the safety of my family, my kids, and grandkids, and really all the people in this area no matter what race or color, because we all need clean water to live," Mike Peters, a Sisseton Wahpeton member, said then. "The water and the land is important to us because everything has a spirit, and when anyone's spirit is covered in oil it saddens all of us."
TransCanada's existing Keystone pipeline has gushed a significant amount of oil three times in less than seven years. That's a much higher rate than the company predicted in its risk assessments provided to regulators, Reuters reported.
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By Will Sarni
It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.
The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future
We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.
"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.
One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.
Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.
Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.
These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.
We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).
We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.
We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.
Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.
Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
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- More research is needed to know what this means for people who vape.
- Other research has shown that vaping can cause damage to lung tissue.
A new study found that long-term exposure to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor increases the risk of cancer in mice.
Six months: That's how much time Mexico now has to report on its progress to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) from extinction.
It may seem innocuous to flush a Q-tip down the toilet, but those bits of plastic have been washing up on beaches and pose a threat to the birds, turtles and marine life that call those beaches home. The scourge of plastic "nurdles," as they are called, has pushed Scotland to implement a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, as the BBC reported.
By Tim Radford
Scientists in the U.S. have added a new dimension to the growing hazard of extreme heat. As global average temperatures rise, so do the frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves.
Oscar-award winning actress and long-time political activist Jane Fonda was arrested on the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Friday for peacefully protesting the U.S. government's inaction in combating the climate crisis, according to the AP.
By Caroline Hickman
I'm up late at night worrying that my baby brothers may die from global warming and other threats to humanity – please can you put my mind at rest? – Sophie, aged 17, East Sussex, UK