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State lawmaker says TransCanada should be ashamed

Jerry Oster WNAX & News Staff - April 11, 2018

PIERRE, SD - The spill from TransCanada’s Keystone Oil pipeline in Marshall County, South Dakota turned out to be much larger than was first reported when it occurred last November. The original spill total was put at 210,000 gallons but this week it was determined 407,000 gallons spilled onto farmland. State Senator Jason Frerichs of Wilmot who represents the area where the spill occurred is hoping state lawmakers will require more accountability from oil pipelines.

"I would hope in the next legisative session, they will consider more accountability," he said.  "This year I brought legislation that would have required observation wells to be maintained for at least 20 years. at each build site.  But that failed. We certainly need more oversight from the Department of Enviornment Natural Resources on these pipelines." 

He says the amount and number of TransCanada’s pipeline spills is much larger than it should be. Frerichs is hoping other South Dakota state legislators and state agencies monitor this type of problem.

"The folks at TransCanada should be ashamed that within two years they have had two massive spills in South Dakota.   I would hope elected officials and agencies will continues to question with me, the integrity of the pipeline that is there."

Frerichs who is term limited says he’ll work with another state lawmaker to draft legislation calling for more accountability from oil pipelines.

"I'll do my partt o get some things moving but I'll have to turn the reins over to someone else. Sen Troy Heinert from Roseud has been very rational on this issue and has been in contact with TransCanada as much as I have. He will be a go-to person to make sure that we hold these large piepleine companies accountable." 

Frerichs says he would have liked to have seen state lawmakers pass a measure calling for a clean-up fund for environmental spills. He doesn’t think that’ll have a chance of passing next session but is hoping to see improvements in pipeline accountability.

In the most recent update, a South Dakota state official said Thursday that a federal agency’s diagnosis of a recent leak in TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline could signal a systemic problem and could lead the state to revoke the permit that allows the company to operate the pipeline.

Gary Hanson, vice chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, said in an interview Thursday that recent findings on the cause of the leak raised concerns about more widespread problems, because they showed the rupture in the pipe may have been caused by a weight placed on the pipeline during its construction meant to keep it from floating in groundwater. The commission regulates utilities and pipelines in the state.

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