Oil spill in rural Kansas creek shuts down Keystone pipeline

Oil spill in rural Kansas creek shuts down Keystone pipeline thumbnail

TOPEKA (Kan.) A major pipeline that transports oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast was shut down Thursday by an oil spillage in northeastern Kansas. This briefly caused oil prices to rise on Thursday.

Canada-based TC Energy said it shut down its Keystone system Wednesday night following a drop in pipeline pressure. It said oil spilled into a creek in Washington County, Kansas, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Kansas City.

The company on Thursday estimated the spill’s size at about 14,000 barrels and said the affected pipeline segment had been “isolated” and the oil contained at the site with booms, or barriers. It didn’t say how the spillage occurred.

“People sometimes don’t realize the damage these things can cause until it happens,” Zack Pistora, who lobbyes the Kansas Legislature to establish the Sierra Club’s Kansas chapter.

Concerns that spills could pollute waterways spurred opposition to plans by TC Energy to build another crude oil pipeline in the Keystone system, the 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) Keystone XL, which would have cut across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Critics also claimed that crude oil from the oil sands of western Canada would cause climate change to worsen. President Joe Biden’s cancellation of a U.S. permit for this project caused the company’s decision to pull the plug last.

In 2019, the Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 383,000 gallons (1.4 million liters) of oil in eastern North Dakota.

Jane Kleeb, who founded the Bold Nebraska environmental and landowner rights group that campaigned against the Keystone XL, said there have been at least 22 spills along the original Keystone pipeline since it began service in 2010. Federal studies have shown that heavy tar sands oil, which the pipeline carries, can be difficult to clean up in water due to its tendency to sink.

“All oil leakages are not easy, but tarsands in particular can be very toxic and difficult to clean up in water. Kleeb is also the chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that there were no known health effects on the public or drinking water wells, and that the oil did not move from the creek to larger waters. Randy Hubbard (Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator) said that there were no evacuations because the oil broke in rural pastureland.

TC said it had installed environmental monitoring at the site, which included around-the-clock monitoring of air quality.

” “Our primary focus right now, according to a company statement, is the safety and health of the onsite staff and personnel as well as the surrounding community and mitigating the risk to the environment.”

Oil prices surged briefly on Thursday afternoon due to news of the spillage. The cost of a barrel for near-term contracts rose by nearly 5% and was higher than the cost of future oil contracts. This is a sign of anxiety in the market about immediate supply.

A U.S. Energy Information Administration spokesperson said the Keystone pipeline moves about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to Cushing, Oklahoma, where it can connect to another pipeline to the Gulf Coast. This is compared to the 3.5 million to 4,000,000 barrels of Canadian oil imported into America every day.

Past Keystone oil spillages have caused outages lasting approximately two weeks. However, this outage could last longer because it involves water, according to analysts at RBC Capital Markets. They said that depending on the location of the spillage, it could be possible for a portion to restart sooner.

“It is something to watch,” said Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy’s petroleum analysis team, which tracks gasoline prices. “It could eventually impact oil supplies to refiners, which could be severe if it lasts more than a few days.”

The spill was 5 miles (8 kilometers) northeast of Washington, the county seat of about 1,100 residents. Paul Stewart, a farmer in the area, stated that part of the spillage was contained on his property using yellow booms, and a dam made of dirt. The Little Blue River flows into Mill Creek.

The Little Blue flows into the Big Blue River. It then flows into Tuttle Creek Lake north of Manhattan, where it is home to Kansas State University. According to the EPA, the oil did no harm to the Little Blue.

Dan Thalmann is the editor and publisher of The Washington County News. He said crews were building a rock path to the creek after recent rains made the fields too soft for heavy machinery to move.

“Gosh! The traffic past my house has been unbelievable — trucks after trucks after trucks,” Stewart said. He took down an electric fence that he had just put up Wednesday, afraid it might be torn down and dragged into the field.

Chris Pannbacker stated that the pipeline runs through her farm. She drove her husband north from their farmhouse, crossing a bridge over Mill Creek.

” We looked at it from both ends, and it was dark on both sides,” Pannbacker, a reporter with the Marysville Advocate newspaper, said.

Junior Roop was the sexton at a cemetery located near the spillage site and said that people could smell the oil in the town. He said that it was like driving by a refinery.


This story has been corrected to show Bold Nebraska’s founder is named Jane Kleeb, not Janet.


Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas, and Funk reported from Omaha, Nebraska. AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed reporting to this article from New York.


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