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Headlines for Saturday, December 17, 2022

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Case Dismissed Against Eudora Day Care Worker

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW/KPR) - The case has been dismissed against a woman accused of killing a baby six years ago at the Eudora day care center where she worked. 9-month-old Oliver "Ollie" Ortiz was found unresponsive at the day care in 2018. In 2021, the Kansas Court of Appeals overturned an earlier conviction of 48-year-old Carrody Buchhorn, saying that she had received ineffective legal counsel. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Douglas County District Judge Sally Pokorny dismissed a second case against Buchhorn Friday, citing the District Attorney's office failure to find a forensic pathologist in a timely matter.

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KCI Officer Shot at Kansas City Airport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — A Kansas City International Airport officer has been shot and wounded. WDAF TV reports that police received a call Friday morning about a shooting at N.W. Cookingham Drive and N. Bern Street, where a KCI officer had located a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot. The officer attempted to pull the car over, but the driver fled the scene and crashed with the officer’s vehicle a short distance away. Backup officers responded to help and took a male and a female suspect into custody. A KCPD spokesperson said as KCI officers were putting the suspects in a police car, a struggle broke out between one of the backup officers and the suspects. That’s when the officer was shot, suffering non-life threatening injuries.

It’s not clear at this time if the gun belonged to the suspects or the officer. According to Aviation Department spokesman Joe McBride, this is the first time in 30 years a KCI officer has been shot. The officer who was shot went to the hospital, and the officer involved in the crash also suffered minor injuries. The two suspects were uninjured and have been taken into custody. Police say there was no disruption to traffic into the terminals or any other airport operations.

The Kansas City Aviation Department provides its own police services, covering the Kansas City International Airport and Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. Last year, the Kansas City Police Department stopped patrolling KCI due to staffing shortages.

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Not Just Any Oil Spill. Keystone Pipeline Dumped Notoriously Hard-to-Clean "Dilbit"' in Kansas

WASHINTON COUNTY, Kan. (KNS) - The oil spill in Kansas is now the second-largest spill of tar sands crude on U.S. soil. And scientists say this stuff comes with major complications for containing and cleaning it. Each day that passes, the hundreds of thousands of gallons of sludgy oil coating Mill Creek in north-central Kansas become harder to clean up. That’s because the pipeline that busted in Washington County on December 7 doesn’t carry conventional crude oil. It carries a product of the Canadian tar sands called diluted bitumen that changes dramatically in chemical composition and behavior soon after escaping from pipes. A National Academies of Sciences study found that transformation means the crude oil can start sinking below the water’s surface in a matter of days.

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Thursday morning that the crude was diluted bitumen, also known as "dilbit." But the agency wouldn’t respond to questions about the implications of that fact for cleaning and containing the notoriously elusive crude oil. And it wouldn’t disclose what methods were being used to verify the material is truly contained, even as Mill Creek continues to flow downstream. TC Energy won’t answer those questions either. (Read more.)

(-Related-)

Canadian Company Reopens Most of Keystone Pipeline Following Kansas Oil Spill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The operator of a pipeline with the largest onshore crude oil spill in nine years has reopened all of it except for the stretch in Kansas and northern Oklahoma that includes the site of the rupture. Canada-based T.C. Energy said in a statement Wednesday night that its Keystone system has restarted operations from Canada to southern Nebraska and from there to south-central Illinois. It also is operating the pipeline from northern Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast.

The December 7 spill forced the company to shut down the Keystone system and dumped about 14,000 barrels of heavy crude oil into a north-central Kansas creek running through rural pastureland in Washington County. Each barrel is 42 gallons, the size of a household bathtub.

"The affected segment of the Keystone Pipeline System remains safely isolated as investigation, recovery, repair and remediation continues to advance," the company said in a statement. "This segment will not be restarted until it is safe to do so."

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, last week's spill in Kansas was the largest on the 2,700-mile Keystone system since it began operating in 2010. And it's the largest onshore oil spill since a Tesoro Corporation pipeline rupture in North Dakota leaked 20,600 barrels in September 2013.

The crude carried by the pipeline is extracted from tar sands in western Canada, can sink in water and can be harder to clean up than more conventional crude oil, according to experts and environmentalists. A 2016 National Academies of Sciences study said the tar sands oil has an "exceptionally high density" compared with other crude oils that can "pose particular challenges when they reach water bodies."

Company officials have said no drinking water supplies were affected, the oil didn't reach larger waterways and no one was evacuated. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that four dead animals and 71 dead fish had been recovered. The EPA also said the company has recovered 5,567 barrels of oil and water and 5,000 cubic yards of oil-contaminated soil, or enough to fill about 24,000 bathtubs.

Concerns that spills could pollute waterways spurred opposition to plans by TC Energy to build another crude oil pipeline in the same system, the 1,200-mile Keystone XL, across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. President Joe Biden's cancelation of a permit for the project led the company to pull the plug last year.

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ACLU Sues Kansas Town over Latino Voting Representation

UNDATED (AP) – The American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a federal lawsuit that Dodge City, Kansas, is denying Latino voters a fair opportunity to elect representatives to its city commission. In a lawsuit filed Thursday night, the ACLU and other groups argue the city should be divided into five separate voting districts, replacing the current system of allowing everyone to vote for all five commissioners. The petition contends the change would allow Latino voters to elect their preferred representatives in at least two of the five districts. The lawsuit notes no Latino candidate has been elected to the commission since at least 2000. Nikolaus Hernandez, the city manager for Dodge City, said the lawsuit doesn't give a complete picture of the city's election process.