Keystone pipeline operator reports more than half of leaked oil has been recovered

By: - December 21, 2022 12:36 pm
Keystone spill

The response site, pictured Sunday, to oil spill on Keystone pipeline near Washington, Kansas. (Courtesy of TC Energy)

LINCOLN — The Canadian company that operates the Keystone pipeline indicated Wednesday that more than half of the crude oil spilled from a rupture near a northeast Kansas creek has now been recovered.

TC Energy, in an update posted Wednesday morning, said its crews had recovered an estimated 7,599 barrels of oil from Mill Creek, and a total of 15,488 barrels of oil and water.

Leak was more than half a million gallons

That would be more than half of the estimated 14,000 barrels of oil — about 588,000 gallons — that spilled into the creek east of Washington, Kansas, in a leak detected Dec. 7.

It was the largest leak to date on the 12-year-old crude oil pipeline, and larger than five previous, reportable leaks combined, according to the Government Accountability Office.

TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, said Wednesday that crews had removed the impacted pipeline segment and have sent it to an independent lab for metallurgical testing.

The testing was ordered by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which regulates pipelines.

Site is south of Nebraska terminal

The leak site is just a few miles south of Steele City, Nebraska, where TC Energy has a pipeline terminal. The cause of the leak is still under investigation, but it occurred as the company was sending a diagnostic tool through the metal pipe in that area.

A group that has opposed tar sands pipelines, the Bold Alliance, has called for the entire pipeline to be shut down so the integrity of the metal pipe can be assessed. Environmental groups have also expressed worry about the oil recovery because tar sands oil sinks in water, rather than floats like conventional oil.

The Keystone pipeline — a forerunner of the more controversial and now abandoned Keystone XL pipeline — transports refined crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast and in southern Illinois.



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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.