Pipeline Spills 1,300 Gallons And Kills Crops

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OLPE, Kan. (AP) -- A Thursday pipeline spill near Olpe has caused acres of damage to surrounding vegetation. However, people are not a risk.

Crews are still cleaning up five days after a pipeline spilled just north of Olpe near the Panhandle Eastern's Plant.

"It was a bad spill. It was a bad situation," says Brian Rees, Lyon County Extensions Office Agricultural Department.

"We haven't had a pipeline spill like this in Kansas as far as the 1980's which is as far back as out digital records go," says Sarah Belfry with Kansas Department of Health.

Belfry says workers were cleaning out a pipeline last Thursday when 1,300 gallons of natural gas condensate was blown out of the pipeline, killing acres of soybean crops and leaving a dark, oily residue on some nearby buildings. However, Belfry says people are not as risk.

"If people got it on their skin in that immediate area, if you wash it off with soap and water you are perfectly okay," says Belfry.

13 News spoke to Pandhandle Eastern's Plant communications representative Vicki Anderson Granado. She told," We are working with the proper authorities to make sure this situation is taken care of quickly and efficiently. We also are working with property owners to make sure any impacted crops are properly taken care of."

But for now, Rees says the farmers he's spoken with are devastated.

"It is their livelihood. It's not an everyday occurrence and we would hope that it would have never happened at all," says Rees.

No injuries were reported. Ress says it will probably be about 1-2 weeks before the clean-up is complete.

State health officials have been at the site of an accident along an eastern Kansas natural gas pipeline that spewed a natural gas cloud that left a dark, oily residue over now withering crops and trees.

The Emporia Gazette reports the incident Thursday along a Panhandle Eastern pipeline near Olpe occurred as crews were trying to perform pipeline maintenance. Residents reported seeing a dark, oily plume burst from the line and spread across nearby fields and yards.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the substance released was natural gas condensate. Natural gas condensate can come in various compositions, but typically contains benzene, a known carcinogen.

KDHE spokeswoman Sara Belfry says she doesn't know how much condensate was released, but that KDHE crews are assessing the situation.

Posted by: Nick Viviani