Pipeline remains closed following oil spill in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Seaway Crude Pipeline Co. pipeline that spilled oil at a storage hub in Oklahoma remained closed Tuesday, according to a spokesman for Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, a 50 per cent owner of Seaway.

“As of right now we don’t have an estimate of when it will be back up,” as officials are trying to determine the cause of the spill that happened shortly before midnight Sunday in Cushing, spokesman Rick Rainey said.

Cushing, about 70 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, is one of the largest oil storage hubs in the world.

Rainey said the cause of the spill hasn’t been determined. “We’re still in the emergency response phase, so we’ve really not had a chance yet to go in and assess the situation and the impact,” he said.

Oil is flowing along a second pipeline and there is no indication of storage problems at the Cushing facility, he said.

The amount of oil spilled is not known. But Rainey said it’s expected to be much less than 50,000 barrels of oil, which is the most that the affected pipe segment can hold.

“We’re in the process of recovering oil, so when the final totals are in, we’re expecting it will be much less,” he said.

Seaway said vacuum trucks are being used to recover the crude oil and return it to storage tanks on the site and that “substantially all” the spilled oil was contained in a retention pond at a facility owned by Enbridge Inc., a Canadian-based company that owns the remaining 50 per cent of Seaway.

The spill caused no injuries and is not a threat to the public, according to Seaway, and Cushing Emergency Management Director Bob Noltensmeyer said the company has been working to clean up the spill.

“No threat to the environment or anything, they’re taking care of that and they’re cleaning up very well,” Noltensmeyer said.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said it is monitoring the situation, but referred questions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which did not immediately return phone calls.