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Shell Pipeline Spill Is Fourth Disaster In Bad Week for Keystone XL Promoters

Last Friday, as national attention turned to the massive Exxon Pegasus tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, another oil spill was occurring near Houston, Texas. Operators of a Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary's West Columbia pipeline, a 15 mile long, 16 inch diameter line, received warnings from the US National Response Center of a potential 700 barrel release (nearly 30,000 gallons) of crude oil on Friday, March 29.

Yesterday, representatives from the US Coast Guard acknowledged at least 50 barrels of oil had entered Vince Bayou, a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

On Monday, April 1, Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon told Reuters "no evidence" of a crude oil leak had been found. "Right now, we haven't seen anything," she said at the time. Investigators have since determined at least 60 barrels of the spilled oil had entered the Bayou. It is unclear at this time what kind of crude oil the pipeline carried.

DeSmog contacted Shell Pipelines US media relations department to inquire about the type and size of the spill but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.

Steven Lehman, Coast Guard Petty Officer told Dow Jones, "That's a very early estimate – things can change."

The pipeline, which moves crude oil from Genoa to a tank farm in East Houston is run by Magellan Midstream Partners.

This spill is the latest in a barrage of oil-related accidents, including two rail car derailments – one in Minnesota and one in Canada – as well as the pipeline rupture in Arkansas.

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune released this statement:

“In these three latest oil disasters, oil companies have proven they are irresponsible. In Ontario, the company said it spilled four barrels when it had actually spilled 400. In Arkansas, Exxon learned about the spill from a homeowner but kept pumping tar sands crude into the neighborhood for 45 minutes, and is bullying reporters who want to tell the public what's going on. Today, in Texas, a major oil spill came to light that Shell had been denying for days.

"Transporting toxic crude oil — and tar sands in particular — is inherently dangerous, more so because oil companies care about profit, not public safety. This is why Keystone XL, at nine times the size of the Arkansas Pegasus pipeline, must never be built.” 

Stay tuned for more updates as we learn further details about this Shell spill.

Image Credit: Shell Pipelines US.

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