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Pipeline spills, big or small, wreak havoc on the environment, with the largest bringing about utter devastation and adding to the frustration environmentalists have over this outdated and harmful infrastructure.

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Now, an underground pipeline that runs through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, has spilled about 138,000 gallons of diesel fuel, as reported by Magellan Midstream Partners, the company that owns it.

“It’s a big one — it’s significant,” Jeff Vansteenburg of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources told the Des Moines Register.

Clay Masters of Iowa Public Radio reports that they discovered the leak after noticing diesel spilling out of a 12-inch underground pipe in a farm field in north-central Worth County, Iowa, this past Wednesday morning. The leak was allegedly the result of the pipeline rupturing, causing the diesel to spray out.

“The product is under pressure, so as soon as a leak develops, it starts coming out pretty fast,” explained Vansteenburg, who noted that the diesel had not made its way to nearby Willow Creek or a wildlife protection area. “Vacuum trucks are sucking up as much liquid as they can and taking that down to Magellan’s terminal. … Once they’ve recovered all the free product that they can then they will go in and remove contaminated soil.”

The company submitted a safety plan to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2014 listing the multi-state pipeline as a transport route for multiple refined oil products that include “Diesel, Gasoline, Jet fuel, Natural gasoline, Naptha, Propane, Natural Gas, Butane.” Maps of the pipeline were edited from the public version of the report.

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Thus far, it’s been reported that cleanup crews have sucked up about 25,000 gallons of diesel and a slush-diesel mixture from the pipeline that broke north of Hanlontown.

Public Media project Inside Energy reported last year on the “chronically underfunded and understaffed regulatory agency” of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which oversees pipelines in the U.S.: “According to PHMSA, the agency has 533 inspectors on its payroll. That works out to around one inspector for every 5,000 miles of pipegovernment audit in October [2016] found that that PHMSA is behind on implementing new rules. It has 41 mandates and recommendations related to pipeline safety that await rulemaking.”
Tom Byers, Manager of Government and Media Affairs for Magellan Mainstream Partners, said, “There will be an investigation on what caused release and what can be learned from this to try and help us and ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
This latest spill comes just days after President Trump issued executive orders and a presidential memorandum on the continuance of operations to build the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline. Both projects have been the subject of much controversy, with heavy resistance from indigenous activists, environmentalists, and private property advocates who believe the project to be theft. It raises the question of whether such a big spill will have any effect on how Trump will move forward with his approval of the pipelines, and how he will address controversy over spills, as well as PHMSA’S lack of responsibility.


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