Family farm impacted by record Keystone Pipeline oil spill

One Kansas family is working to restore their farm after a record oil spill in Washington County.
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 8:30 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/Gray News) - Just 20 miles south of the Kansas-Nebraska state line, federal data reports the biggest oil spill in Keystone Pipeline history.

The spill is impacting many people in who live in Washington County, about 150 miles northwest of Kansas City, KWCH reported.

“We know we have pasture grass that’s black, that will probably have to be removed,” said Chris Pannbacker, who owns a farm nearby the spill.

“It’s our land; it’s our livelihood. Our kids grew up there. There is a lot of heritage and history and our families worked hard to be good stewards of the land. So, we just want to do whatever we can to restore it,” said Pannbacker.

Canada-based TC Energy said the Keystone system was shut down Wednesday night following a drop in pipeline pressure, The Associated Press reported.

The company on Thursday estimated the spill’s size at about 14,000 barrels and said the affected pipeline segment had been “isolated” and the oil contained at the site with booms, or barriers. It did not say how the spill occurred.

Nearly 150 crew members in Washington County are working to help fix the spill. Officials are also investigating what led to it.

According to Washington County’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, the water is safe to drink for those in the area. People are asked to avoid the area while crews continue to work.

“There is going to be a lot of traffic in the area. The company probably has 150 people on the ground in all capacity onsite. So, there is a lot of equipment and a lot of moving parts,” said Randy Hubbard, Washington County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

A U.S. Energy Information Administration spokesperson told the Associated Press that the Keystone pipeline moves about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to Cushing, Oklahoma, where it can connect to another pipeline to the Gulf Coast. That’s compared to the total of 3.5 million to 4 million barrels of Canadian oil imported into the U.S. every day.