Nearly half of the oil spilled last week outside Edinburg has been recovered, a TC Energy spokesperson reported Monday, Nov. 4.
Canada-based TC Energy spokesperson Robynn Tysver said the company has about 200 round-the-clock personnel at the site of the Keystone Pipeline oil spill focused on clean-up and remediation activities. Twelve vacuum trucks have been used to remove 4,300 barrels of oil, and heavy machinery is being used to remove the affected dirt. Tysver said the waste from the site will be sent to an approved facility for disposal, though she said it is unclear at this point where that facility will be.
Preliminary work to remove the damaged section of the pipe, a process which will last about a week, Tysver said. Once excavated, the pipe will be sent to a third-party laboratory for a full investigation, though she added that it is also unclear where that laboratory will be.
Walsh County Emergency Manager Brent Nelson said that TC Energy has taken full control of the site.
"At this point, the county's involvement is pretty much just keeping abreast of what's going on," Nelson said. "I've been available to them if there's something locally they can use or need, but most of everything they brought in from their own resources."
It remains unclear what caused the leak, which the state Division of Water Quality has characterized as high impact.
"Our focus is really on the cleanup right now," Tysver said in a phone conversation with the Herald. "There will be an investigation, and, right now, we are not going to speculate."
TC Energy announced that the pipeline had sprayed 9,120 barrels, or 383,040 gallons, of oil into a wetlands area 3 miles outside of Edinburg. Emergency officials have said they believe a computer system shut down the pipe almost immediately Tuesday night after it detected a pressure decrease around 10:20 p.m.
Tysver said the next step in the cleanup process is to develop a remediation plan in conjunction with the landowner and federal regulators to restore the site. There is not currently a certain timeline for the project, but she said the work restoring the land will likely be impacted by the weather and the season.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum last week urged TC Energy to re-evaluate the programs it has in place to inspect pipelines. When questioned about those remarks, Tysver emphasized the company's focus on cleaning up the site before looking forward.
"No incident is acceptable, and, as an industry, it is important that we work together to learn from each other and share expertise and technology with the collective goal of preventing incidents," she said in an email. "We will continue to have discussions with the governor on the iPipe initiative and the role TC Energy will have in it."
Steps have been taken to prevent wildlife from entering the contaminated area, including using flags, mylar ribbons and tapes to ward of birds and other creatures. She said there are currently no reports that any wildlife has been harmed by the incident.
Tysver added that it's still unclear how long roads to the site will be closed to the public.