Keystone XL pipeline supporters are holding meetings in different Nebraska cities this week to highlight safety aspects of the project. Hydrogeologist Dr. Burt Fisher says that fears of massive risk to water in the Ogallala aquifer in event of a potential spill have been overblown, despite claims from those opposed to the project. Fisher states that the water in the aquifer would actually prevent any spilled oil from sinking into the aquifer.
“Physics and chemistry and biology of the circumstance will greatly limit the impact of any spill. We certainly don’t want any spill, but the oil floats and can’t sink into the aquifer,” according to Dr. Fisher.
Both sides are currently awaiting a final decision from President Obama on the proposed pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. Fisher says the State Department report notes that even the worst case scenario for a spill in the aquifer would be cleaned up in a timely manner.
“The worst case scenarios that were put forward in the state department report suggested that the longest plume of oil would be around 1,000 feet, which is long, but it would certainly be cleaned up very quickly. The oil would be held back by the presence of the water in the aquifer.”
Fisher is touring Nebraska this week with a group of pipeline supporters to discuss safety aspects of Keystone XL in multiple communities.