Keystone Pipeline leaks 950,000 litres of oil after spill in South Dakota

The pipeline runs from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico: Getty Images
The pipeline runs from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico: Getty Images

Part of the controversial Keystone Pipeline was shut down on Thursday after a huge oil leak on the West Coast of America.

Environmental scientist Brian Walsh told NBC news workers reported word of the leak in South Dakota after 210,00 gallons (955,000 litres) of oil were spilled.

The Canada-to-Texas line is currently operated by Canadian oil firm TransCanada, who have yet to confirm the cause of the leak.

Mr Walsh said the oil appeared to be contained to an agricultural area and that it had not spread to any bodies of water.

The line was commissioned in 2010 under Barack Obama but received criticism from politicians and activists over fears that any leaks risked "polluting air and water supplies" and "harming wildlife".

An extension to the pipeline - named "Keystone XL" - was voted down by Obama in 2015. Incumbent president Donald Trump is gathering support to revamp the extension project.

The leak comes four days before state officials were due to vote on whether or not to approve the 275-mile long extension.

Kelly Martin, director of the environmentalist Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, said: "We've always said it's not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and today TransCanada is making our case for us.

"This is not the first time TransCanada has spilled toxic tar sands and it won't be the last. The only way to protect communities from more spills is to say no to Keystone XL."

TransCanada said it was working with state and federal agencies in order to address the issue.

A spokesman said: "The safety of the public and environment are our top priorities and we will continue to provide updates as they become available."