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House wants answers on Keystone oil pipeline leak

The early-December leak on the Keystone oil pipeline was among the worst in roughly a decade.

Sen. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, speaks during a press conference with other congressional democrats on new democratic legislative efforts to lower gas prices in America at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Thursday, April 28, 2022. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 3 | Sen. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, speaks during a press conference with other congressional democrats on new democratic legislative efforts to lower gas prices in America at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Thursday, April 28, 2022. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Canadian energy company TC Energy needs to hand over a formal plan outlining ways it would prevent future spills from its Keystone oil pipeline, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Tuesday.

TC Energy, formerly Trans Canada, closed the Keystone pipeline from Canada on Dec. 7 after discovering oil had leaked into a creek in northern Kansas. Among the dozen or so leaks since the Keystone network was commissioned in 2010, the release of some 14,000 barrels of crude oil makes it the worst U.S. oil spill in more than a decade.

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Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he has serious concerns about TC Energy's safety record.

"The Keystone pipeline has continued to exhibit a pattern of oil spills and safety incidents that put public health and safety at risk," Pallone, D-N.J., said. "Therefore, I request that TC Energy provide a formal plan for preventing further oil spills and for remediating the significant damage caused by this most recent incident."

TC Energy estimated it's recovered about 7,200 barrels of an oil and water mixture from the creek about 20 miles south of Steele City, Neb., as of Tuesday. Crude oil resumed flowing through the pipeline last week, though the affected section remains closed while investigators work to determine the cause of the breach.

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TC Energy has yet to reveal a potential cause of the leak, though Bloomberg on Tuesday reported that the company was testing higher flow rates at the time of the incident.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration gave TC Energy a corrective action order one day after the leak was reported. PHMSA noted that U.S. code mandates the operator in the event of a spill to "take necessary corrective action, including suspended or restricted use of the facility, physical inspection, testing, repair, replacement, or other appropriate action."

The type of crude oil delivered through Keystone is a viscous form that tends to sink in water, complicating remediation work. Michigan officials had considered a ban on Canadian crude oil following a 2010 rupture on Line 6b, part of a broader, regional oil pipeline networked operated by Canadian energy company Enbridge.

More than 30 miles of the state's Kalamazoo River were soiled by an estimated 25,000 barrels of oil, making it one of the worst incidents of its kind.

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