Focus of Kansas Keystone Pipeline spill shifts to restoration instead of recovery

Rewatered segment of Mill Creek near Washington, Kansas.
Rewatered segment of Mill Creek near Washington, Kansas.((Photo credit: U.S. EPA))
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 7:59 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Following a shift to ‘in-creek recovery completion,the Environmental Protection Agency says that officials have completed the recovery of discharged oil and will now focus on restoration.

On Dec. 8, 2022, about 14,000 barrels of oil leaked into Mill Creek in Washington Co. after bend stress and a weld fracture caused the Keystone Pipeline to fail. While additional tasks continue, such as disposal of oil-impacted soil and sediment, the Army Corps of Engineers has authorized TC Energy - the owner of the pipeline - to begin restoration work under Nationwide Permit 27.

The EPA noted that the permit allows TC Energy to restore Mill Creek to its original condition, form and function. It will also include enhancement activities that will result in a gain in aquatic resource functions and services.

“Starting restoration work in Mill Creek is a tremendous milestone and to meet that in five months highlights the commitment and dedication of response personnel,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “I am very proud of our team and their commitment and dedication to overseeing the cleanup operations at the site, which included time on-site during extreme winter weather and several holidays.”

The EPA indicated it will continue to work closely with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to oversee the restoration of the site. The KDHE will also oversee the decommissioning of the water treatment facility, monitor water quality, work with USACE on restoration and work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to evaluate wildlife impacts.

“We are so pleased to see the progress on the restoration and recovery of Mill Creek and recognize that these are the combined efforts of hundreds of hard-working personnel,” said KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek. “I commend the KDHE team for its diligent and committed response to overseeing the remediation of the creek and surrounding area, and ensuring the future use of the water source.”

For more information about the restoration process, click HERE.