Keystone Pipeline leak the largest onshore spill in 5 years


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, on Thursday, Dec 8, 2022. Vacuum trucks, booms and an emergency dam were constructed on the creek to intercept the spill. (Kyle Bauer/KCLY/KFRM Radio via AP)

(NewsNation) — One of the many questions following the largest U.S. crude oil spill in nearly a decade has been the timeline of cleanup, as more than 14,000 barrels of crude oil — over half a million gallons — now lie in Washington County, Kansas land and waters.

While the leak — which came from TC Energy Corp’s Keystone Pipelinefirst took place last Wednesday, the Canadian company said Monday they’ve yet to determine the cause, although they continue to excavate around the pipeline.

“Our teams continue to actively investigate the cause of the incident. We have not confirmed a timeline for re-start and will only resume service when it is safe to do so, and with the approval of the regulator,” TC Energy stated in a news release.

Adding to the lack of answers has been a lack of progress.

According to Dan Thalmann, the owner of the Washington County News, a meeting between TC Energy Corp and local officials Monday to discuss efforts to contain and clean up the spill was “uneventful” and only 13 minutes in duration, Reuters reported.

The energy company has been able to contain the spill with about 250 people working on the site, the company said in it’s Sunday update, adding that third party environmental specialists were among those helping.

“The product remains contained and multiple vacuum trucks, booms, and additional resources are onsite as we continue the recovery process,” TC Energy said. “Repair planning is also underway, as are shoreline assessments.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said there were no known effects yet on drinking water wells or the public, and the oil didn’t move from the creek to larger waterways. 

Additionally, Randy Hubbard, the Washington County Emergency Management coordinator, said there were no evacuations ordered because the break occurred in rural pastureland.

“Continuous air quality monitoring has been deployed and, at this time, there is no indication of adverse health or public concerns,” the company said on Sunday.

As of now, the company said their “crews are beginning preparations” to deal with worsening weather, as rain is predicted Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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