The company, which operates a pipeline that spilled about 14,000 barrels worth of crude oil into a creek in northeastern Kansas, is recovering at least a small amount of crude from the largest onshore oil spill in nine years.
Canada-based TC Energy has recovered 2,163 barrels of oil mixed with water after spilling 14,000 barrels of oil from a creek flowing through a ranch in rural Washington County, Kansas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday. About 150 miles (240 km) from Kansas City.
The EPA also said the company had recovered 435 barrels from the ruptured pipeline, bringing the total recovered oil and water to 2,598 barrels, a figure the company also released. Each drum is enough to fill a domestic bathtub, for a total spill of 588,000 gallons.
Last week’s rupture in Kansas forced the company to shut down the Keystone system, and it hasn’t said when it will be back online. The truck it uses is basically a big wet vac to suck out the oil. The company said late Thursday that the trucks were operating around the clock. No drinking water was affected and no one was evacuated after the spill, the company and the EPA said.
“Our commitment to the community is that our response efforts will continue until we have fully restored the site,” the company said in a statement.
The company uses fences or barriers to keep the oil in the creek and also builds an earth dam to keep it from flowing into larger waterways. The EPA said the company built a second earth dam to help support the first.
It was the largest onshore spill since a Tesoro Corp. pipeline rupture in North Dakota released 20,600 barrels in September 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The sum of more than 22 previous system breaches in 2010.
The spill prompted the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline Safety Division to order TC Energy to take corrective action.
It said the company must reduce operating pressure by 20 percent on a 96-mile (155-kilometer) stretch from Steele City, Nebraska, south to Hope, Kansas. It also said it could not restart operations at the unit without permission from the pipeline safety regulator.
The company also has to identify the root cause of the leak, submit a plan to find similar problems elsewhere and conduct additional testing by early March.
Bill Karam, executive director of the Trust to Advocate for Pipeline Safety, said most of the order was “boilerplate” for standards and it was possible that TC Energy would bring the 96-mile section back online after the repairs.
“They need to dig the pipeline in such a way that it’s just for investigation, for root cause analysis, and that’s probably going to take the most time,” Caram said. “But the actual fix could be quick.”
Concerns that the spill could contaminate waterways have prompted TC Energy to oppose plans to build another crude oil pipeline in the Keystone system, the 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) Keystone XL, which would straddle Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Alaska. Critics also argue that using crude oil from western Canada’s oil sands will exacerbate climate change, and President Joe Biden canceled a U.S. permit for the project, leading to the company shutting down production last year.