LINCOLN — Thousands of cubic feet of oil-soaked soil from a pipeline leak in Kansas has ended up in an Omaha-area landfill, and an environmental watchdog wants the state to make sure it’s not contaminating anything here.
“This is a foreign company that is using Nebraska as a dumping ground,” said Jane Kleeb, the founder of Bold Nebraska.
State officials, he said, should have notified Nebraska citizens that this waste was arriving here and should now insist on regular monitoring to ensure it doesn’t impact the soil or water here.
The oil-soaked soil contains some dangerous chemicals, including benzene and hydrogen sulfide, according to lab reports posted on the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy website.
Lab tests say it’s fine
Officials at Canada-based TC Energy and the Pheasant Point landfill near Bennington said Thursday that laboratory tests of the soil, carried by the crude oil leak on the Keystone Pipeline in northeastern Kansas, deemed safe to be deposited in the landfill.
Carla Felix, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of the Environment and Energy, said the department was “confident” the soil qualified as “nonhazardous solid waste,” after reviewing lab reports requested by the Department of Health. and the Kansas Environment and the EPA.
“Pheasant Point is designed to accept these types of solid waste and is designed to meet Nebraska state and federal landfill regulations,” said Lisa Disbrow of Waste Management, owner of the Pheasant Point landfill.
He said the landfill’s “cells” have composite linings of 2 feet of compacted clay and a 60-mil (thousand-inch) polyethylene sheet that protects against groundwater contamination.
The pipeline broke in December
The landfill, located just north of Nebraska Highway 36 at 216th Street, also has monitoring wells to detect problems, Disbrow said.
He said Thursday that 16,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil had so far been transported since the pipeline spill, which occurred Dec. 7 near Washington, Kansas.
The examiner has heard rumors that the soil arrived in Nebraska a month ago, but was only recently able to confirm it.
Documents on the NDEE website indicated that TC Energy initially applied on Dec. 14 to deposit up to 100,000 tons or 75,000 cubic feet of soil at the Rolling Meadows Landfill near Topeka, Kansas, also operated by Waste Management.
The Nebraska landfill was chosen, according to Disbrow, because it’s larger and can accept more solid waste. It routinely accepts solid waste from outside the state, he added.
If 75,000 cubic yards were sent to the Pheasant Point landfill, they would cover an area the size of a football field up to nearly 40 feet deep.
The pipeline leak occurred on a portion of the Keystone Pipeline that runs from Steele City, Nebraska, to Cushing, Oklahoma.
Nearly half a million gallons of crude, about 13,000 barrels, flowed into Mill Creek, east of Washington, Kansas. It is the largest oil spill on the Keystone Pipeline since it entered service 13 years ago.
Faulty weld accused of leaking
Two weeks ago, TC Energy said the leak was caused by a faulty weld in the steel pipeline. The company estimated the cost of “repair, investigation and shared learning” at $480 million.
Kleeb, whose group has led the opposition to a now-abandoned companion to the Keystone pipeline, the Keystone XL, said there is “no way” that the soil and other materials transported by the pipeline leak are not hazardous. .
Citizens, he said, should have been informed that this waste was from Kansas and should have been informed of the ongoing monitoring.
“How many landfills said ‘no’ before ours said yes?” asked Kleeb.
A cleanup order, finalized Jan. 6 with the EPA, said the spill significantly affected fish and wildlife and posed a threat to human health and the environment. Initially, the oil was 10 inches thick over a distance of 1.5 miles downstream of Mill Creek, which is adjacent to the spill site, the EPA said.
According to the EPA, a higher volume diversion is under construction to guide creek flows around the spill site.
Last week, the agency said a new phase in spill response had begun, focusing on “identifying and implementing tactics that address remaining recoverable oil from surface waters, ice, debris, sediments and shorelines.”
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