Keystone Pipeline Spills in Kansas …Again

Ruptured Keystone oil pipeline in Washington County, Kansas. Image source: The Canadian Press/AP, DroneBase via CTV.

TC Energy of Canada’s Keystone pipeline spilled more than 14,000 barrels of crude oil, or 588,000 gallons, into a river in Washington County, Kansas, making it one of the largest crude spills in the United States in nearly a decade. This is the biggest spill of several thousand barrels of crude on this pipeline since it first opened in 2010. But it’s at least the twentieth spill for this pipeline, and bigger than all of the others combined.

While federal regulators have issued warning after warning that TC Energy’s operators aren’t doing what is expected to prevent corrosion or following the proper construction procedures, TC Energy just keeps it up, racking up the profits and paying fines that they can easily afford in another case of classic capitalist regulatory justice. They have paid just over $300,000 in fines, which is 0.2% of the $111 million in damage it has caused without including the cost of the current spill. And that’s just damage to property, because the damage to life in the area is not calculable.

Of course, the company claims there have been no major adverse effects on the local land, rivers, and water supplies! This is clearly not true of the river it actually spilled into. And this spill happened only about two months after TC said that it would increase capacity by operating at a “higher stress level than other U.S. crude lines.” Given their track record, we have every reason to believe that a higher stress level means more disasters.

This spill is yet another in a long line of examples of the reasons we must stop using oil, transporting it for long distances. Even newly built pipelines and oil rigs, using supposedly the latest, safest technology, cannot and will not safely drill and transport oil for long distances. But that it exactly what oil companies and drilling companies need to do to maintain their profits, that and fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gas, destroying our climate. And regulatory agencies under capitalism? They are just a slap on the wrist, over and over.