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Crews have cleaned up most of the oil that spilled out of the Keystone pipeline in Kansas

A photo shows crews cleaning Mill Creek.
Environmental Protection Agency
Crews clean Mill Creek.

Two pipelines, including the Keystone that ruptured on Dec. 7, are the most important local sources of tax revenue for Washington County

The pipeline company that spilled nearly 600,000 gallons of oil onto fields and into a stream in north-central Kansas says it has cleaned up more than 85% of the crude.

Meanwhile, the Washington County, Kansas, newspaper reported that the Keystone pipeline is by far the county’s biggest source of tax revenue. The county’s second-biggest source of tax revenue? Also a pipeline operator.

TC Energy estimates that 588,000 gallons of crude oil spewed out when the Keystone pipeline burst on Dec. 7 — the biggest spill yet on the Canadian company’s largest oil pipeline system.

The company says crews have recovered about 516,000 gallons. More than 800 workers are on site, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Much of the work focuses on Mill Creek. Several miles of the stream have been blocked off to facilitate the intensive cleanup and contain the contamination.

A state environmental agency said last week that it was seeing a drop in chemical levels downstream from the isolated segment of the creek.

Biggest taxpayers in Washington County

The Washington County News reported Thursday that seven of the county’s 10 biggest taxpayers involve pipelines.

But revenues from the Keystone pipeline eclipse the rest, and only kicked in recently because a 10-year tax exemption expired.

The county, two school districts and other local units of government get more than $1.9 million combined in taxes from the Keystone this year, the newspaper said.

The second-biggest source of tax revenue, another pipeline owned by Northern Natural Gas, paid about $670,000 to local units of government in Washington County last year.

Read more about the Keystone spill in Kansas

Celia Llopis-Jepsen is the environment reporter for the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @celia_LJ or email her at celia (at) kcur (dot) org.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

I write about how the world is transforming around us, from topsoil loss and invasive species to climate change. My goal is to explain why these stories matter to Kansas, and to report on the farmers, ranchers, scientists and other engaged people working to make Kansas more resilient. Email me at celia@kcur.org.