Oil spill in rural Kansas creek shuts down Keystone pipeline system

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Nearly 14,000 barrels spilled into a creek.

ByNadine El-Bawab
December 10, 2022, 3:48 AM

The Keystone pipeline system was shut down by operator TC Energy after an oil spill released an estimated 14,000 barrels into a creek in Washington County, Kansas.

PHOTO: Washington County Road Department constructs an emergency dam to intercept an oil spill after a Keystone pipeline ruptured at Mill Creek in Washington County, Kanas, Dec 8, 2022.
Washington County Road Department constructs an emergency dam to intercept an oil spill after a Keystone pipeline ruptured at Mill Creek in Washington County, Kanas, Dec 8, 2022.
Kyle Bauer/KCLY/KFRM Radio via AP

The system transfers oil between Canada and the U.S. Crews were able to control downstream migration of the oil as of Thursday night. Repair planning is underway as are shoreline assessments, according to TC Energy. Continuous air quality monitoring has also been deployed, the company said.

PHOTO: View of the site where the Keystone pipeline crosses U.S. Route 36 just east of Washington, Kansas, Dec. 8, 2022 in this image taken from social media.
View of the site where the Keystone pipeline crosses U.S. Route 36 just east of Washington, Kansas, Dec. 8, 2022 in this image taken from social media.
Fred Knapp/nebraska Public Media/Fred Knapp via Reuters

The emergency shutdown was issued early Thursday morning after a detected pressure drop in the system. TC Energy said it will conduct a full investigation into the root cause of the incident and is cooperating with regulators.

The affected segment was isolated and booms were deployed to control downstream migration of the spill, TC Energy said.

The Environmental Protection Agency dispatched two regional coordinators to the scene. TC Energy also mobilized a response crew originating from Steele City, Nebraska, to begin containment and source control, according to the the EPA. Washington County is about 20 miles south of Steele City, Nebraska.

PHOTO: A remediation company deploys a boom on the surface of an oil spill after a Keystone pipeline ruptured at Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas, Dec. 8, 2022.
A remediation company deploys a boom on the surface of an oil spill after a Keystone pipeline ruptured at Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas, Dec. 8, 2022.
Kyle Bauer/KCLY/KFRM Radio via AP

According to the EPA, there are no known impacts to drinking water wells or the public but surface water of Mill Creek has been impacted.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said his agency is “monitoring and investigating” the Keystone leak.

“Our Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued a Corrective Action Order requiring a shutdown of the affected segment, analysis of the cause, and other safety measures,” Buttigieg said in a tweet Friday.

TC Energy said it immediately activated its emergency response procedures and has established environmental monitoring, including around-the-clock air monitoring. It’s still unclear what caused the spill.

The EPA said it will oversee TC Energy’s response operations to ensure proper cleanup and evaluate the cause of the incident.

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