WASHINGTON, Kan. — The Friends of the Kaw issued a statement on Friday in response to the recent leak of the Keystone pipeline on the Kansas-Nebraska border.

The Friends of the Kaw describes themselves as a grassroots conservation group focused on protecting the Kansas River and advocating for the rehabilitation of its water quality and wildlife habitats. The organization is weighing in on the pipeline spill as it impacts the Kansas River system.

The oil spilled into Mill Creek which drains into the Little Blue River and on to the Big Blue River where its waters are held in Tuttle Creek Reservoir before moving into the Kansas River. The Friends of the Kaw report that the oil spill has completely inundated Mill Creek with oil.

We suspect many fish and wildlife have been lost as this creek is host to numerous concentrations of birds, fish, eagles, and other wildlife. This is of particular concern during the fall migration season. Fish and wildlife are important to Kansans for the quality of life that they bring to our state and the roles they play in our native ecosystems.

Friends of the Kaw statement

A stream advisory was issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for Mill Creek, according to Friends of the Kaw. The KDHE and the Environmental Protection Agency remediation teams were both sent to the site of the oil spill and have taken steps to prevent the oil from migrating downstream.

The Friends of the Kaw reports that over 61,000 square miles of watershed in Kansas, southern Nebraska and eastern Colorado drain to the Kansas River which is the drinking source for over 800,000 Kansans and a vital natural resource. This area includes the creek, rivers and reservoir potentially impacted by the oil spill. Even though the site of the oil spill is far from the Kansas River, it can demonstrate how connected the people and places in the watershed are, according to the Friends of the Kaw.

For the sake of the people and wildlife in Washington County and those living downstream who could be impacted, we urge TC Energy to clean up the entire spill and to take action on any later impacts that may occur as a result of their actions.

Friends of the Kaw statement

The Kansas River originates at the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican Rivers near Junction City. The Kansas River runs 173 miles east to meet the Missouri River at Kaw Point in Kansas City.

According to the Associated Press, the oil spill is the largest for an onshore crude pipeline in nearly a decade and the largest in the history of Keystone pipeline. The spill is estimated to be at about 14,000 barrels, or 588,000 gallons.

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