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Impacts of the

Keystone XL Pipeline Project

Dani Dawson
Jordan Frank
Javier Trejo
Mason Vecera

By: Dani Dawson

What is an aquifer?
A body of permeable rock that can contain or transmit
Can be bought to the surface through natural springs or by
96% of freshwater is groundwater
Rate of movement depends on the material that makes up
the bedrock
Sandstone or limestone are typical

Ogallala aquifer
Beneath the Great Plains of the US
174000 mi2 in portions of 8 states
South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma,
New Mexico and Texas

Named in 1898 by NH Darton

Part of the High Plains Aquifer System
30% of the groundwater from the aquifer is used for irrigation
Supplies drinking water to 82% of the 2.3 million people in the
High Plains area

Keystone Pipeline
1,661 mile keystone pipeline to carry oil from the Athabasca oil
sands of Alberta to refineries in Houston, TX, Steele City, NB,
Wood River and Patoka, IL
Crosses the eastern part of NB Sandhills
This poses a threat to the Ogallala Aquifer

Upon completion of 4 phases, the pipeline will consist of 2,151

The project faces criticism due to the threat it poses on the

Nebraska Sandhills
A region of mixed-grass prairie on sand dunes in north-central
One of the largest and most intricate wetlands ecosystems in
the US
Covers over of the state

Deemed a National Natural Landmark in 1984

Keystone Pipeline poses a threat because it would cause
degradation of the land, ruin habitats for animals, and
potential pollution

The Problem
By: Jordan Frank

Tar Sands Oil

Keystone Pipeline will
transport Tar Sands Oil
Diluted bitumen, or dilbit,
Tarlike substance
Mined from the Alberta Tar
Chemically diluted
Heated to improve flow

Prone to leaks
Separates under pressure and
Creates explosive natural gas,
heavy compounds and
corrosive acids
Sinks in water
Expensive & Difficult

Probability of spills-HIGH

Risk of a Spill
TransCanada evaluated the risk
50 years there could be 11 spills
releasing 50+ barrels each

John Stansbury, professor of environmental and water

resources engineering at the University of Nebraska...

91 spills over 50 years
Releasing 6.5 million gallons of Tar Sands Oil into the Ogallala
Contaminating drinking water

Worst-case spill in the Sand Hills region

Potentially contaminate 4.9 billion gallons of groundwater with a
plume of contaminants 40 feet thick, 500 feet wide and 15 miles long

Tar Sand Oil Spills

-1979 pipeline rupture in Bemidji, Minnesota

Spilled 450,000 gallons of crude oil into aquifer

Initial remediation efforts removed 75% of the oil
Pipeline company cleaned up an additional 30,000 gallons from 1999 to 2004
Approximately 80,000 gallons remain in the soil and underground aquifer

Summer of 2010 rupture of Enbridge Pipeline into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan
Leaked a million gallons of Tar Sands Oil
Nearly one billion dollars spent in clean up efforts over three years
40 miles of the river remain contaminated

April 2013 an Exxon Pipeline leaked Tar Sands Oil into a residential neighborhood in
Mayflower, Arkansas and into Lake Conway
22ft. crack in pipeline
Contamination of drinking water source
Contamination of popular fishing spot

TransCanada Leak History

-Existing portion of the Keystone Pipeline
14 leaks at pumping stations
Due to an aboveground fitting
Leaks were controlled
Fittings replaced

Smallest leak: a few drops

Largest leak: 400 barrels
Oil in standing water outside Ludden, ND pump
station, TransCanada Keystone pipeline system.
May 9, 2011
Photo: Pete Carrels

TransCanada Leak Detection


TransCanada has admitted that Keystone XLs real time

leak detection system will not detect pinhole leaks smaller
than about 700,000 gallons a day. Natural Resources Defense
Council, attorney Anthony Swift
Contamination to Ogallala Aquifer

Responders will not be able to remove the contaminated soil

Forced to pump contaminated water out of the aquifer

A Keystone XL Tar Sands spill in the Ogallala Aquifer would

be a disaster!!!

The Solution
By: Javier Trejo

The Conclusion
By: Mason Vecera