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Pipeline leaks thousands of gallons of crude oil into a creek in north central Oklahoma

A road closure at N3520 Road and East Fairlawn Road near the reported site of the spill in Cushing.
Graycen Wheeler
Road closure at N3520 Road and E Fairlawn Road near the reported site of the spill in Cushing.

An underground pipeline has leaked at least 42,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek in Payne County since it ruptured on July 8.

The Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the clean-up of Skull Creek northeast of Cushing in north central Oklahoma. The creek feeds into the Cimarron River, whose aquifer provides water for agriculture and irrigation.

Oil leaked into the Payne County creek from the Osage Pipeline that carries oil from Cushing to El Dorado, Kansas. The pipeline is one of dozens that run through Cushing, which bills itself “the pipeline crossroads of the world.”

Holly Energy Partners, which owns the Osage Pipeline, confirmed that it lost pressure on July 8. The pipeline has been up and running since July 18, but it’s still experiencing lower pressure than normal.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said they’re analyzing the section of pipe that failed. The administration hasn’t released any information about what caused the leak, but its investigation is ongoing.

Cleanup crews had closed roads near the reported site of the leak last month while environmental management tanker trucks rolled in. Holly Energy Partners is working with government agencies and landowners on recovery procedures, according to a spokesperson with their parent company, HF Sinclair.

Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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