Crews in Washington County report progress in cleanup from historic oil spill

An pipeline rupture spilled oil into Mill Creek in Washington Co., Kan.
An pipeline rupture spilled oil into Mill Creek in Washington Co., Kan.(EPA)
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 8:05 PM CST
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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - Crews in Washington County say they are making progress on an oil pipeline spill that happened last week. About 14,000 barrels of oil spilled from the Keystone pipeline, some into a creek.

A week after the disaster, EPA crews remain hard at work in north central Kansas, trying to determine what led to the largest oil spill on American soil in 12 years and the biggest in Keystone history It’s a spill putting Washington County in the history books. More than half of a million gallons of oil spilled. That’s left Washington County resident Jim Parrack and others in the surrounding area curious about where all the oil is going.

“I just kind of wonder what they’re going to do with the oil after they get it, you know. What are they going to do with it, bury it, or haul it off and burn it? What are they going to do?” Parrack asked. “You don’t really think those are questions people would ask, but that’s the interesting part, I think.”

Kellen Ashford with EPA Region 7 explained the process for cleaning the spill.

“As part of the current cleanup efforts, oil and water are currently being vacuumed into vac trucks before being placed into frac trucks,” Ashford said. “As for longer-term remedial efforts, that is to be determined.”

Nearly 2,200 barrels barrels of oil and water mixture have been recovered from Mill Creek, an additional 435 barrels of oil have ben recovered from the ruptured pipeline. Cleanup efforts are progressing, but there is a long way to go.

“Cleanup can be rather dynamic. You know, really, no problems have been encountered,” Ashford said. “The oil discharge was contained.”

As part of the cleanup effort, TC Energy which operates the pipeline, has brought in 317 workers to assist.