BILLINGS — A Canadian company says two people working on the Keystone XL oil pipeline have tested positive for the coronavirus in northern Montana, prompting a temporary shut down of a pipe yard.
Calgary-based TC Energy says the first pipe yard worker in Phillips County tested positive at a local clinic on July 28, Yellowstone Public Radio reported. Testing on six close contacts of the infected person found a second worker with the virus.
Native American tribes and others along the pipeline’s 1,200-mile (1,930-mile) route have raised concerns that workers could bring the virus into rural communities unable to handle a large outbreak.
The infected workers were in quarantine and not expected to return to the worksite, where construction was expected to wrap up in coming days, the company said.
TC Energy this spring negotiated with health officials in Montana on a plan to minimize virus risks, including checking people entering work sites for fever.
The company had planned to build 11 camps housing up to 1,000 workers each along the pipeline’s route — six in Montana, four in South Dakota and one in Nebraska. TC Energy has started work on camps in Montana and South Dakota, but it’s uncertain if all the camps will be built because of the pandemic.
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