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Analysing ground changes surrounding the largest oil pipeline leak since 2010

February 25, 2023
Satellite image of pipeline leak

On the evening of Wednesday 7 December 2022, a massive leak was detected on the north-eastern Kansas stretch (Phase 2) of the Keystone pipeline, spilling more than 14,000 barrels of crude oil into the surrounding environment. 

Satellite image of pipeline leak

At nearly 600,000 gallons, it’s one of the largest leaks to occur in the US in nearly a decade and represents a major disruption to oil transportation in the US mid-west and the Gulf coast. 

It has also had significant environmental impact, with the spill flooding rural pastureland and entering the nearby Mill Creek. 

Fortunately, it was prevented from flowing into the Little Blue river by a combination of booms and a dirt-made dam, meaning no known effects on drinking water wells or the public had been identified. 

The pipeline owner, TC Energy, shut down operations after detecting the loss of pressure and immediately sent crews, including third-party environmental specialists, to investigate and to monitor air quality for any sign of adverse health or public concerns.

The cause of the leak hasn’t been disclosed at the time of writing this feature, but the pipeline was returned to operational activity by 29 December 2022 following extensive repairs.