It’s not a matter of if Keystone XL will spill, but when.
Pipelines carrying tar sands have a horrible track record. In early 2013, 80,000 gallons of tar sands crude devastated a residential neighborhood in Mayflower, AK. And 2010 saw the worst oil spill in Michigan State history when a tar sands pipeline spilled 900,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River.
TransCanada, the company building Keystone XL, might have the worst record of any pipeline company. Its Keystone 1 pipeline, the predecessor to Keystone XL, spilled 12 times the first year after its construction.
It’s also not just when the pipeline will spill, but where. Keystone XL runs over Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer*—one of the world’s largest underground aquifers, providing 30% of the nation’s groundwater used for irrigation and drinking water to millions. An oil spill in the Ogallala would be devastating.
*Since this infographic was published, Nebraskans successfully organized to reroute Keystone XL to protect the fragile Sand Hills area. But the pipeline still threatens the Oglalla Aquifer.