Lawmakers worry spill on Keystone system in southern Kansas

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State lawmakers fearful Tuesday that southern Kansas is weak to grease spills from the Keystone pipeline system as a result of earthquakes have develop into extra frequent there, as they questioned an govt for the pipeline’s operator a few large spill in northeastern Kansas in December.

Gary Salsman, a vp for area operations for Canada-based TC Vitality, was briefing three Kansas legislative committees in regards to the Dec. 7 rupture on the Keystone pipeline in Washington County, Kansas, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Kansas Metropolis. It was the biggest U.S. onshore spill in almost 9 years, and the corporate expects to spend $480 million cleansing it up, with these efforts lasting no less than into the summer season.

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Salsman informed a joint assembly of the Kansas Home power committee and its water committee that security is TC Vitality’s prime precedence and that the corporate will keep in Washington County till the cleanup is full. He was additionally anticipated to testify earlier than the Senate Utilities Committee.

However a number of lawmakers mentioned they’re nervous in regards to the pipeline within the Wichita space, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of the Washington County spill web site. The world started experiencing a rise in earthquakes in 2013, after Keystone opened its Kansas pipeline section, tied to actions related to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in oil and pure fuel manufacturing.

“My concern is just not this spill a lot as what’s lurking, transferring ahead, particularly as you get down south,” mentioned Republican state Rep. Leo Delperdang, of Wichita, the Home power committee chair. “We get earthquakes. What occurs with the bottom motion?”

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Through the Home committees’ listening to, Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, a Kansas Metropolis-area Democrat, requested Salsman whether or not the Keystone pipeline wanted “distinctive engineering” in southern Kansas.

Salsman acknowledged that he’s not an skilled on the subject, however added: “After we design pipeline, we take all of these elements into consideration and I might assume that, that was a part of our design standards.”

TC Vitality reported final month {that a} defective weld at a bend within the pipeline underneath the Washington County creek precipitated a crack that then grew over time due to the stress on the bend. The rupture dumped almost 13,000 barrels of crude oil, every sufficient to fill a normal family bathtub, into the creek and on the encircling pastureland.

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Salsman informed legislators that 95% of the crude oil has now been recovered.

“We’ve actually contained this web site,” he mentioned.

The two,700-mile (4,345-kilometer) Keystone system carries heavy crude oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to the Gulf Coast and to central Illinois.

Considerations that spills might pollute waterways spurred opposition to plans by TC Vitality to construct one other crude oil pipeline in the identical system, the 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) Keystone XL, throughout Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. President Joe Biden’s cancelation of a allow led the corporate to tug the plug on the venture in 2021.

In Kansas, GOP lawmakers praised TC Vitality for transferring rapidly to comprise the Washington County spill and described the corporate as open about its actions. Nobody was evacuated, and state and U.S. authorities officers have mentioned water from two rivers downstream weren’t affected. Salsman mentioned the corporate has obtained no complaints from folks tied to air high quality.

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Salsman mentioned the corporate has diverted water from the affected creek to keep away from a 4.5-mile (7.2-kilometer) part in order that crews can dig out soil contaminated by the crude oil. The corporate estimates that it has a median of 800 folks on web site in any given 24-hour interval.

“Our focus is on — completely on — the remediation of the positioning and the security of these folks engaged on the positioning,” Salsman mentioned.

Democrats have been extra pointed with their questions. Information from the U.S. Division of Transportation’s pipeline security arm confirmed that the Washington County spill was the biggest on the Keystone system because it started working in 2010 and bigger than 22 earlier spills mixed, in line with a U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace report back to Congress in July 2021.

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The report mentioned: “The severity of spills has worsened lately.”

Kansas Metropolis-area state Rep. Lindsay Vaughn, the highest Democrat on the Home Water Committee, requested Salsman why spills on the TC Vitality pipeline are getting worse. Salsman didn’t reply the query straight, saying that the corporate has finished full cleanups and brought corrective motion with the entire earlier incidents.

“We’re going to unravel this,” he mentioned.

Vaughn mentioned later that she wasn’t glad with the reply, and Zack Pistora, a lobbyist in Kansas for the Sierra Membership, mentioned folks nonetheless don’t have any cheap assurances that one other oil spill received’t occur.

“I respect the pleasantries,” he mentioned, “however there are nonetheless some exhausting questions that didn’t get answered.”


Observe John Hanna on Twitter:


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