Investigation reveals cause of pipeline leak in northern Kansas

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Kan. (Nebraska) – A North American energy company/pipeline operator has shared the findings of its initial investigation into what caused the December pipeline spill in northern Kansas.

In a news release Wednesday, TC Energy said the spill from a portion of the Keystone pipeline in Washington County, Kan. was due to a combination of factors including “flexural stress on the pipe and a weld defect on a pipe for the circumferential weld joint that was completed in a manufacturing facility.

“Although weld inspection and tests were conducted according to applicable codes and standards, the weld defect led to a crack that propagated over time due to bending stress fatigue, eventually leading to instantaneous failure ”reported TC Energy.

The company said the investigation is continuing to determine the cause of the bending stress “as part of the larger third-party root cause analysis.”

“Our focus continues to be the safe operation of the pipeline system. Additional operational mitigations, such as operational pressure relief, are in place to support the safe operations of our system as we continue our response and investigation,” TC Energy said. “Our team is advancing a remediation plan, including a ‘analysis of other areas with potentially similar conditions, the use of additional online inspections and additional operational mitigations”.

The company said the investigation also determined the spill resulted in the release of 12,937 barrels of oil, down from the original estimated high of 14,000 barrels.

Since the Dec. 7 spill, TC Energy has estimated a cost impact of $480 million.

KCWH extension contributed to this report.

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