TransCanada crews make progress on Keystone Pipeline leak cleanup

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MARSHALL COUNTY, S.D. TransCanada says its crews are making significant progress in the cleanup of the Keystone Pipeline leak in Northeastern South Dakota. Around 5,000 barrels or 210,000 gallons leaked near Amherst last Thursday morning.

The number of workers coming in to help clean up the leak has increased from 75 on Friday to 150 on Monday. One area farmer knows it's a serious situation, but believes TransCanada's crews will do their best to get everything back on track.

"It's nothing that won't be taken care of efficiently and good," Retired Farmer Don Tisher said. "I'm not going to live long enough to not need gas and oil and fuel and this is the safest, the most economical way of transporting it."

Tisher hopes people understand that accidents happen.

"Everything leaks. I've bet you've had leaks in your apartments or your houses, it happens. It leaks and you can't get away from it and you fix it the best you can, the quickest you can and go on about life," Tisher said.

Down the road, Kent Moeckly says he was hesitant about the Keystone Pipeline from day one.

"We had some educated people, engineers and that sort of thing that said thin wall, high pressure, hazardous liquid pipelines and then slamming it in the way they did and putting cement weights on it to hold in down in the water they were putting it in, in the trenches, they said how can something like this not happen?" Area Landowner Kent Moeckly said.

TransCanada says the cleanup is going smoothly so far.

"We are currently pulling in all major equipment and we have all of that on-site including backhoes, [bull]dozers and trucks and HVACs, and we’re beginning to get into the original source of the site and starting to remove oil," TransCanada Public Information Officer Jacquelynn Benson said.

As their work continues, TransCanada's crews say they are grateful for the help from area restaurants and hotels.

"We cannot stress enough how thankful we are for the cooperation of the local communities with specifically, yes, providing us with different types of amenities and food on site as well for the members working here safely," Benson said.

Tisher says people worried about the spill should relax.

"Don't worry, it’s no problem for humans or animals or livestock or anything else. Sure it’s gonna smell a little bit but a lot of things smell," Tisher said.

TransCanada's crews started excavating the oil-stained soil a few hours ago. It will then be taken to an approved landfill nearby. Crews plan on staying near Amherst for as long as it takes to clean everything up.

TransCanada is still investigating the cause of the leak.