News Briefs

Keystone pipeline owner blames Kansas spill on faulty weld, estimates $480M remediation cost

By: - February 10, 2023 6:35 am

Efforts are underway to clean up the largest spill in the Keystone pipeline’s history, which happened near Washington, Kansas. The pipeline’s owner announced Mill Creek will be temporarily rerouted to help with cleanup (TC Energy).

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Keystone oil pipeline’s massive spill in northern Kansas was likely caused by a faulty welding job, the company that owns the pipeline said Thursday.

Federal regulators in December ordered Canada-based TC Energy to investigate the cause of the spill in Washington County, which dumped oil onto adjacent farmland and into Mill Creek.

The company said in a release Thursday the investigation is ongoing. But so far, an independent analysis revealed the pipe burst was caused in part by bending stress on the pipe and a faulty welding job completed at the facility where the pipe was fabricated.

“Although welding inspection and testing were conducted within applicable codes and standards, the weld flaw led to a crack that propagated over time as a result of bending stress fatigue, eventually leading to an instantaneous rupture,” the company said.

The company estimated the cost of “remediation, investigation and shared learning” would be $480 million.

The Keystone pipeline, which carries oil from Canada to Illinois and Texas, spilled near Washington, a small town along the Kansas-Nebraska border. The spill, which took place in December, was first believed to be about 14,000 barrels – or 588,000 gallons. The company revised that estimate to 12,937 barrels, the largest in the pipeline’s history.

TC Energy has paid just over $300,000 fines for more than 20 previous spills. That’s 0.2% of the more than $111 million in property damage resulting from those spills.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Allison Kite
Allison Kite

Allison Kite is a data reporter for The Missouri Independent and Kansas Reflector, with a focus on energy, the environment and agriculture. A graduate of the University of Kansas, she previously covered City Hall for The Kansas City Star, as well as state government in both Topeka and Jefferson City.