Crews will reroute Mill Creek after massive Keystone pipeline spill in Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Crews will reroute Mill Creek to avoid the site of the Keystone Pipeline’s largest-ever oil spill, the oil pipeline’s parent company announced Tuesday.

The Keystone pipeline, which runs from Canada to Texas and Illinois, spilled 14,000 barrels of oil near the Kansas-Nebraska border in early December. The spill — the latest in a number of spills and deficiencies along the pipeline — turned Mill Creek black and deposited oil on farmland near Washington, Kansas.

Within two weeks after the spill, more than 400 people were onsite cleaning up the oil, including personnel from the pipeline’s owner, TC Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and local officials. Crews built dams to contain the spill and began vacuuming oil from the creek and surrounding areas.

Now, those responders are working to “temporarily divert (Mill) Creek from a location upstream of the pipeline spill to downstream of the containment dams,” TC Energy said in a statement.

“The diversion will assist in the cleanup and reclamation of the creek,” the statement said.

The map shows the planned diversion of Mill Creek as crews work to clean up the site of the Keystone oil pipeline spill. (TC Energy via Kansas Reflector)

TC Energy did not say in its news release how diverting the creek would assist in cleanup.

The company also has not announced an update on how much oil it has removed from the creek. As of Dec. 21, it had removed 7,599 barrels of oil from the creek, a little more than half of the estimated amount spilled.

TC Energy said it would give $7,500 to purchase new mobile and radio equipment for the Washington County Emergency Management Office. It also pledged to match donations to the Washington County Hospital.

The site of the spill on Tuesday was still subject to a no-fly zone for drones requested by TC Energy.

Following the spill, the federal government ordered TC Energy to investigate the cause of the pipeline’s spill. It also required the company to submit a plan before resuming operations. The Cushing Extension — the part of the pipeline where the spill occurred — started operating again on Dec. 29.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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