Amherst incident

Response underway

Current update

We are working in continuous collaboration with State and Federal regulatory agencies to permit a safe and controlled return to service of the Keystone system. As part of the approved plans, TransCanada is operating the pipeline at a reduced pressure to ensure a safe and gradual increase in the volume of crude oil moving through the system. We are following a strict startup protocol that includes visual checks from land of valve sites and pump stations as well aerial inspections along the pipeline right-of-way.

View our FAQ

Update from November 27

Today, TransCanada announced that our Keystone Pipeline repair and restart plans have been reviewed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) with no objections, permitting a safe and controlled return to service of the Keystone System.

As part of the reviewed plans, we will operate the pipeline at a reduced pressure starting on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, to ensure a safe and gradual increase in the volume of crude oil moving through the system.

We appreciate the continued cooperation and support from local officials, emergency response personnel and commissioners in Marshall County, as well as the landowner who has granted permission to access land for assessment, repair and clean-up activities. We also want to recognize the continued efforts of our crews, contractors and businesses in the community for their around-the-clock support, which has allowed us to respond quickly and safely to this event.

We are communicating plans to our customers and will continue working closely with them as we begin to return to normal operating conditions. We will also comply with any future PHMSA orders and requirements as a result of this incident to ensure the integrity of the pipeline.

Update – 5:00 p.m. CST, November 26, 2017

Work continues to progress at the Amherst incident site. There are approximately 170 people on-site, working around-the-clock on clean-up and remediation activities. As of November 26, TransCanada has recovered 44,730 gallons of oil.

We continue to use sophisticated air-monitoring equipment at all times – though there have been no significant concerns. As well, there have been no water issues to date. Local TransCanada experts continue to monitor water quality, including additional well water testing for local landowners within the area.


Update – 5:30 p.m. CST, November 24, 2017

Work continues to progress at the Amherst incident site with about 170 round-the-clock personnel focused on clean-up and remediation activities.

To date, 44,400 gallons of oil have been recovered. Preliminary work to expose and subsequently extract the damaged section of pipe began yesterday and is expected to be complete by end of day Sunday, November 26. Additional excavation will be conducted beyond Sunday for soil remediation purposes. Preliminary inspections of the damaged section will be completed on site by both TransCanada and PHMSA staff, then sent to Washington, D.C., for a complete investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board’s Metallurgical Laboratory. 

Air quality monitoring continues regularly without concern and there have been no water issues or suspected risks to water wells. As a safety precaution, TransCanada sampled one residential water well yesterday at a location about 1.5 miles from the site to alleviate any concerns — all test results were normal.

TransCanada engineers and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) continue to evaluate the most appropriate restoration methods for the site.

Please visit our updated FAQ section for further details.

Update – 4:09 p.m. CST, November 21, 2017

Over 160 crew members are on site removing oil. Repair plans will be confirmed once we are able to safely expose the impacted section of pipe. As of November 21, over 16,000 gallons of oil have been removed using hydro-vac and excavation equipment.

TransCanada engineers are currently evaluating appropriate repair methods in conjunction with Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA).

Please visit our updated FAQ section for further details.

Update – 2:00 p.m. CST, November 20, 2017

Progress at the Amherst incident site continues, with approximately 150 people working around-the-clock on clean-up and remediation activities. All necessary equipment for this work has been deployed to the site. Measures continue to be in place to deter wildlife from entering the area and sophisticated air-monitoring equipment is being used at all times – though there have been no significant concerns.

We will update this page as new information becomes available. If you have questions, please visit our frequently-asked-questions section below.

Update – 1:40 p.m. CST, November 19, 2017

Work continues to progress at the Amherst incident site. There are now approximately 150 people on-site, working around-the-clock, on clean-up and remediation activities. This includes the recently completed gravel road into the site, which was built to handle the heavy equipment.

We currently have all the necessary equipment for the remediation work, including dump trucks, excavators and bulldozers.

Measures continue to be in place to deter wildlife from entering the area and sophisticated air-monitoring equipment is being used around-the-clock – though there have been no significant concerns.

Update – 12:27 p.m. CST, November 18, 2017

We are continuing to make progress in our investigation to determine the cause of the leak on the Keystone Pipeline right-of-way. Also, additional equipment and personnel continue to be dispatched to the site for the clean-up and remediation work.

On-site specialists in Marshall County, South Dakota confirm the incident is under control and that there is no significant environmental impact observed or threat to public safety. Measures have also been put into place to deter wildlife from entering the area and sophisticated air-monitoring equipment is being used around-the-clock – though there have been no significant concerns.

Update – 11:44 a.m. CST, November 17, 2017

We continue to make progress in our clean up of oil on the Keystone Pipeline right-of-way.

Our crews are working around-the-clock with regulators on the site in Marshall County, South Dakota. There are currently over 75 people supporting our incident response, including specialists in environmental management, metallurgy, engineering, pipeline integrity and emergency response. They continue to affirm the incident is controlled and there is no threat to public safety.

We take this incident very seriously and are working with federal and state regulatory agencies. Members of PHMSA, South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other state agencies are on site and monitoring progress.

Frequent updates are being provided to the impacted landowners, community, regulators and other state and federal agencies to ensure they are aware of our progress.

More details:

Crews and equipment were dispatched and the area is being managed to ensure safety and security for personnel and residents. TransCanada workers and nationally recognized, industry leading experts (with proper safety equipment) began developing response plans. We continue to work methodically and around-the-clock on this process.

Members of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other state agencies are on site. A steady stream of information is being provided to the affected landowners and regulators/agencies to ensure they are aware of our progress as information is confirmed.

Update – 2:28 p.m. CST, November 16, 2017

At approximately 6 a.m. CST (5 a.m. MST) today, we safely shut down the Keystone pipeline after we detected a pressure drop in our operating system resulting from an oil leak that is under investigation.

The estimated volume of the leak is approximately 5,000 barrels. The section of pipe along a right-of-way approximately 35 miles (56 kilometres) south of the Ludden pump station in Marshall County, South Dakota was completely isolated within 15 minutes and emergency response procedures were activated.

The safety of the public and environment are our top priorities and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

More details:

Crews, including TransCanada specialists from emergency management, engineering, environmental management and safety as well as contracted, nationally recognized experts, are assessing the situation. TransCanada is providing State and Federal regulators, including the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the National Response Center (NRC), with accurate and confirmed information on an ongoing basis.

TransCanada appreciates the collaborative support of local officials, emergency response personnel and commissioners in Marshall County, as well as the landowner who has given permission to access land for assessment, identification and clean-up activities.

We have been keeping our shippers and customers up to date and have communicated that the pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma and to Wood River/Patoka, Illinois is expected to remain shut down as we respond to this incident. This does not affect the Marketlink pipeline system, which uses the facilities of the southern leg of the Keystone system from Cushing to the Gulf Coast.

Cleanup is underway in Amherst, South Dakota

Crews working around-the-clock on clean-up and remediation activities

County Commissioner Paul Symens of Marshall County

County Commissioner Paul Symens of Marshall County

Marshall County neighbor Don Tisher

Marshall County neighbor Don Tisher

Tribal Chairman Dave Flute from Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation

Tribal Chairman Dave Flute from Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation

Amherst incident location map

Map of Amherst incident location

Specialists in environmental management, metallurgy, engineering, pipeline integrity and emergency response

Morning safety briefing on November 17, 2017

Approximate release area of incident

Approximate release area of incident

Safety experts assess the situation

Safety specialists on site

Answering your questions about the Amherst incident

You have questions about the Amherst incident, and we want to make sure you have the information you need to feel confident in our response. If you have a question not covered below, please email us here.

We put a high priority on the safety of the public and our employees, all while protecting the environment. We do this by actively and regularly ensuring that our pipelines are built to the highest standards. We also regularly monitor all our infrastructure through advanced technology and aerial as well as physical inspections. If a leak occurs – such as in this case – we immediately investigate and take the necessary actions to contain the leak and remediate the area.

In all circumstances, we take full responsibility for emergency response and cleanup for any of the pipelines that we own and operate.

The pipeline does not cross any bodies of water at this location. All efforts have been made to ensure oil is contained and cleaned up quickly.

The safety and security of the public and workers is our first priority. Upon receiving the first report of an incident, we shut down the pipeline within minutes, notified state and federal regulatory agencies, local officials and nearby residents. TransCanada personnel also physically confirmed that valves located up and down the pipeline from the incident site were properly closed.

Crews and equipment were dispatched and the area is being managed to ensure safety and security for personnel and residents. We continue to work methodically and around-the-clock on our response.

We respond immediately by shutting down and isolating the pipeline systems and/or shutting down the pump or compressor stations and dispatching emergency response personnel. The main focus of the initial response is to stop operating the pump or compressor units in order to reduce the flow through that particular segment of pipe and then close isolation valves in the vicinity of the leak to limit its impact.

In the unlikely event that a leak occurs, our company takes full responsibility for the emergency response and cleanup for as long as we own and operate the pipeline.

We create Emergency Response Plans (ERP) for every pipeline and project in our system. These plans must be in place before the pipeline ever goes into operation. While plans may vary depending on project and community needs, the basic elements of a plan will include hazard identification, notifications and response tactics to ensure TransCanada personnel are able to effectively respond in the event of an emergency.

All our ERPs are developed through a detailed and comprehensive program specific to the project and communities in which we operate. This includes gathering necessary and important feedback from local communities and emergency responders during the planning stages.

Members of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) are on site and monitoring progress. The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other state agencies are also on site. A steady stream of information is being provided to the impacted landowner and regulators/agencies to ensure they aware of our progress and as information is confirmed.

Our control center monitors our pipelines 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure they run safely and efficiently. The control center includes an operational control system, a leak detection system and a satellite communication network.
 
Our state-of-the-art Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and our specialized liquids leak detection systems, along with elevated safety features and specialized staff trained on our oil pipelines ensure we can quickly identify and respond to an issue. These features include:

  • Technology capable of isolating sections of our pipeline and then remotely closing the required valves on the systems within minutes from our control centers.
  • Around-the-clock monitoring of pipeline operations by highly trained staff who shut down the pipeline at the first sign of a problem until the cause of the alarm is determined.
  • A highly automated system of pipelines that includes thousands of data sensors and emergency shut-off valves to effectively minimize the amount of liquid released.
  • Real-time information on liquids pipeline operating conditions that is transmitted via satellite every few seconds from thousands of data points to our operations control center.
  • An essential requirement that all possible problems be investigated immediately by pipeline controllers and on-the-ground field staff. After a pipeline is shut down in order to investigate an anomaly, that pipeline cannot be re-started until the cause has been identified and the operations personnel have confirmed it is safe to do so.

We have emergency response personnel on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These emergency responders consist of employees and contract personnel who specialize in emergency response. The local police and fire departments may be involved to protect the public and ensure our personnel are able to work safely, but TransCanada does not expect volunteer or dedicated local fire departments to have the equipment or specific experience needed to respond to an incident.

That being said, we provide awareness training about responding to a pipeline incident. We view the communities we operate in as emergency response partners. We work collaboratively with these stakeholders on a continuous basis, inviting them to participate in exercises and training. Each year, we hold over 100 of these exercises in communities across our operations.

On November 27, TransCanada announced that our Keystone Pipeline repair and restart plans have been reviewed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) with no objections, permitting a safe and controlled return to service of the Keystone System.

As part of the reviewed plans, we will operate the pipeline at a reduced pressure starting on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, to ensure a safe and gradual increase in the volume of crude oil moving through the system.

We are working to address the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) questions and concerns. In addition, we are cooperating with the PUC and other regulatory agencies, including PHMSA and the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources as we work to investigate the cause of this incident and move forward to repair the pipeline and remediate the site.

More information

TransCanada takes all incidents related to our business and communities seriously. When we activate our emergency response plan, we work immediately with communities and emergency responders to mitigate all risks as quickly and professionally as possible.

For more information about our emergency response and preparedness, click here.

For media inquiries, please call 1.800.608.7859 toll-free.