An oil spill is bad no matter what, but when the area it affects ends up being larger than first reported, the credibility of the initial account comes in question.
That is the case in North Dakota, where the amount of land impacted by the Keystone pipeline oil spill is almost 10 times larger than initially reported, officials said. That information released a month after the Keystone 1 Pipeline leaked over 383,000 gallons or 9,119 barrels of oil.
TC Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, shut down it down Oct. 29 after discovering the oil leaked from the pipe into the surrounding wetlands.
The pipeline returned to service Nov. 10 after approval by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, TC Energy said.
Initial reports of the leak released by TC Energy and North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality estimated about 2,500 square yards of land ended up affected by the spill.
Now, they have revised the size of the impacted area to 4.8 acres, or 23,232 square yards, almost 10 times the original estimate.
The new estimate includes the surface and subsurface impact of the leak. The initial 2,500-square-yard estimate was based on visual observations alone, the company said.
“During our initial response to the incident, we immediately sectioned off a larger area (approximately 25,000 square yards) around the visibly impacted section to secure the area, provide for wildlife deterrent and air monitoring purposes,” a TC Energy representative said.
Despite this initial identification of 25,000 square yards to be blocked off, TC Energy did not update its website to reflect this number until Tuesday — after media reports of the large increase in impact estimates released.
The Department of Environmental Quality said an estimated 8,037 barrels of oil has been recovered out of the 9,120 spilled.
The Keystone 1 Pipeline system extends 2,600 miles from Alberta east into Manitoba, then south to Texas, according to TC Energy.