Last week the Keystone pipeline spilled more than 14,000 barrels of crude oil into Mill Creek in Washington County.
The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Andrew Bahl reports that’s the equivalent of over 500,000 gallons, or about the size of a water tower.
That’s a lot of oil.
The photos of the spill are stark. They show a big black stain on the Kansas prairie pastures. There need to be consequences for this accident. More than just a fine. We need policy changes that will prevent future spills not only in Kansas, but along the rest of the pipeline.
Bahl reports the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the U.S. Transportation Department ordered TC Energy — which operates the pipeline over its 2,700 mile run from Alberta, Canada, to Oklahoma — to shut down the 96-mile segment that includes Washington County. Additionally, they’ve built a dam four miles downstream from the spill to halt the flow of the crude oil. TC Energy crews have also recovered 2,163 barrels of oil-water mixture from Mill Creek and 435 barrels of oil from the ruptured pipeline. Cleanup efforts, however, are expected to last into this week, if not longer.
TC Energy needs to be held accountable.
There is likely little the state can do as this is an interstate pipeline regulated by the federal government. However, Sen. Mike Thompson, R-Shawnee, chair of the Senate Utilities Committee, said that he was looking at potential hearings to brief lawmakers on the spill and its impact. We think the Senate should move forward with a hearing — ask questions. Put some pressure on TC Energy.
The federal government needs to do a better job regulating the oil pipelines so future spills like this can be avoided. Perhaps change the exemption that allows the pipeline to flow at a higher pressure.
Earlier this year, TC Energy paid a roughly $500,000 fine related to a crude oil spill at a delivery facility in Beaumont, Texas.
Perhaps we need to up the fines?
At the end of the day, all we really want is to prevent future spills. No matter how that comes together, be it fines or policy, let’s be better stewards of our state.
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