A ruptured pipeline in Northern Iowa has spilled 138,600 gallons of diesel fuel last week, just one day after Donald Trump signed executive orders to continue the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. The company who owns the pipeline, Oklahoma based Magellan Midstream Partners, said they were “unsure of the cause of the incident at this time.” The fuel pooled in an agricultural field after the spill began Wednesday morning, according to Karen Grimes, of the Iowa department of natural resources (DNR). She said efforts to clean up the spill were being slowed by heavy snow and wind.
The incident appears not to have affected any waterways or caused any injuries or evacuations, according to both the company and the DNR.
Greenpeace researcher Jesse Coleman referred to the spill as “not a major disaster” compared to other oil spills, but nonetheless said the incident highlights the risks involved with pipelines such as the ones supported by Trump’s executive orders.
Supporters argue that pipelines are a safer method of transporting fuel than alternatives such as trains. However, 1,000 pipeline leaks have spilled over 7 million gallons of oil between 2010 and 2015, according to High Country News.
According to Coleman:
“This really speaks to the central problem, which is that we’re not even surprised that this company spilled something out of a pipeline because it’s inevitable. That’s what’s really frightening about these larger pipelines. You can never really rehabilitate an area that got soaked in gasoline. Even this spill, it can’t be cleaned up. That gives you some idea of what will happen when the Dakota Access pipeline or the Keystone XL pipeline fails. It’s irreversible.”
The spill occurred only a few days after the company, Magellan, had reached an 18-million dollar settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over allegations that it had violated the Clean Water Act. On the 19th, the EPA said that Magellan had agreed to pay 16 million dollars towards “injunctive relief,” which included cleanup efforts and improved damage prevention training, along with a 2 million dollar fine over three pipeline spills in Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas.
The following Monday, days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, EPA staff were issued a gag order against speaking to the press, according to the Associated Press.