A total of 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota, according to the pipeline's operator, TransCanada. The spill involved the equivalent of about 5,000 barrels of oil.

The company (TSX:TRP) said its crews shut down the Keystone pipeline system early this morning between Hardisty, Alta. to Cushing, Okla, and a line to Patoka, Ill. and that the line is expected to remain shut while it responds to the spill.

The leak, which it said happened about 35 kilometres south of its Ludden pump station on a right-of-way, comes as Nebraska Public Service Commission is set to vote on the Keystone XL project on Nov. 20 to clear the last major regulatory hurdle for the $8 billion project.

Opponents of Keystone XL say the pipeline would pass through the Sandhills, an ecologically fragile region of grass-covered sand dunes, and would cross the land of farmers and ranchers who don't want it.

"Just days before the Nebraska Public Service Commissions decides on whether to approve Keystone XL we get a painful reminder of why no one wants a pipeline over their water supply," said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema.

The Sierra Club was also quick to condemn the spill, urging the commission not to vote for the project.

"We've always said it's not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and today TransCanada is making our case for us," said campaign director Kelly Martin.

The area of the leak is close to the Lake Traverse Reservation, home to the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota people.
The pipeline would transport oilsands oil from Alberta through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines that feed Texas Gulf Coast refineries.


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