Investigators in Kansas are trying to determine what caused the worst leak in the Keystone pipeline’s 12-year history, and a federal report released last year showed the crude pipeline recorded 22 incidents between 2010 and 2020 and found the severity of the leak ” worsened” “in recent years.
Previous incidents had spilled 11,975 barrels of crude oil, or just over 500,000 gallons, according to the US Government Accountability Office report. Combined with last week’s accident in Kansas, the pipeline has spilled a little more than a million gallons of oil over a decade, enough to fill a semi-Olympic-sized swimming pool.
The most recent Keystone pipeline rupture occurred last week in Washington County, Kansas, near the Nebraska border, causing 588,000 gallons of crude to pour down a slope and into a creek, according to pipeline operator TC Energy.
The government accountability report indicated that the Kansas oil spill was not only larger than all previous spills from the pipeline combined, but more than double the size of the next largest accidental spill on the pipeline, the November 2017 spill in Armor, South Dakota. The spill occurred near est.
A barrel of oil is reported to be equivalent to 42 gallons, about the size of an average bathtub.
The Kansas oil spill is now the largest in the United States in more than a decade, but not the largest in the country. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon event, which dumped 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days before being capped, became the worst oil spill in U.S. history, closely followed by the 1989 The Exxon Valdez supertanker accident spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
Twelve of the 22 Keystone pipeline leaks between 2010 and 2020 released less than two barrels of oil into the environment. But four others released more than 50 barrels each, and six met the federal government’s criteria for an incident “affecting people and the environment,” according to the Government Accountability Office.
The report found that since 2011, the Keystone pipeline has seen increasing leaks.
In April 2011, a spill in Sargent County, North Dakota released 16,800 gallons. In 2016, an accident near Freeman, South Dakota also spilled about 16,800 gallons. About 19 months later, the Amherst event occurred, spilling 276,864 gallons of water onto land reserved for wildlife and public use.
Three years later, 189,630 gallons of crude oil leaked from a section of pipeline near Edinburgh, North Dakota.
“The Keystone accident history has been similar to other crude oil pipelines since 2010, although the severity of the leak has worsened in recent years,” the government report said.
The report found that the Keystone Pipeline’s four largest oil spills were caused by issues related to the pipeline’s original design, fabrication or construction.
In a statement to ABC News on Tuesday, TC Energy responded to the report, saying “we take each incident very seriously. We will never accept any incident.”
“Our focus is to safely operate our systems in an environmentally responsible manner. We make continuous investments in pipeline monitoring systems, planned maintenance, pipeline integrity management and emergency preparedness,” the company said.
It also implemented pipeline improvements, such as deploying state-of-the-art inline detection technology, the company said.
The Keystone pipeline runs 2,687 miles from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas, Illinois and Oklahoma. More than 3.3 billion barrels of unrefined oil have flowed through the Keystone pipeline since it opened in 2010, TC Energy said on its website.
The Kansas leak was first detected just after 9 p.m. on December 7, about 20 miles south of the Steel City, Nebraska pipeline terminal. A leak occurred in a 36-inch diameter above-ground pipe, prompting TC Energy to shut it down.
The spill near Mill Creek in Washington County, Kansas, was “contained” by about 300 crews on site, TC Energy said in a statement Monday.
It was unclear when repairs to the pipeline would be completed, and TC Energy officials said no timetable had been set for restarting the flow of crude oil through the pipeline.
The company said the third-party environmental experts were among hundreds of people using multiple vacuum trucks, booms and other resources to clean up the mess. As of Monday night, the company said it had recovered more than 109,000 gallons of oil from Mill Creek, and that ongoing air quality monitoring found “no indication of adverse health effects or public concern.”
“Over the past several years, we have taken decisive action to take steps to strengthen the integrity of our safety methods and systems, and will work with regulators to conduct a full investigation into the root cause of this incident,” TC Energy said in its statement. statement.