Update: The EPA responded to the Keystone Pipeline oil spill and provided an update Friday on the impact and cleanup efforts. That story is posted here.
Wednesday night’s Keystone Pipeline crude oil spill in north-central Kansas is likely the pipeline’s largest spill to date.
At an estimated 14,000 barrels, it is larger than all the pipeline’s previous spills combined, according to a report on the pipeline’s previous spills from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The pipeline became operational in 2010. Since then, it has experienced 23 spills— ten of which have occurred in Kansas or Missouri.
“This is very serious,” said Zack Pistora, a Kansas lobbyist for the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s largest environmental organizations. “According to a recent GAO report, 11,975 barrels have been spilled to date… if 14,000 barrels spilled is true, that would not only be the largest spill event to date for Keystone, but it is more than all the rest of the spills combined.”
Crews continue to work on cleanup at the Mill Creek spill site northeast of the small city of Washington, Kansas, located around three hours’ drive northwest of Kansas City. TC Energy, the Canadian company which operates the pipeline, is now calling the spill the Milepost 14 Incident.
“We have established environmental monitoring, including around-the-clock air monitoring,” the company wrote in a press release Thursday. “Our response efforts will continue until we have fully remediated the site.”
On Thursday, Washington, Kansas, officials wrote on the city’s website that there was no threat to city utilities and the city water supply was safe.
Photos from the scene showed crews building an emergency dam across the creek and deploying vacuum trucks and floating barriers called “booms” to collect spilled oil. The pipeline remains shut down as repairs are underway.
The spilled amount is equivalent to around 558,000 gallons— enough to fill around 43 ½ standard swimming pools.
“We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and once again TC Energy has made our case for us,” said Sierra Club program director Catherine Collentine in a Thursday press release. “There is no such thing as a safe tar sands pipeline and this is another disaster that continues to prove we must put our climate and our communities first.”
The 2,687 mile long Keystone Pipeline carries crude oil from Canada to refineries across the U.S, particularly in the Midwest. CNN reported Thursday that the pipeline’s overnight shutdown caused the price of oil to rise by around 5% before returning to normal levels.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has sent regulators to the site of the spill. Its cause is still under investigation.
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