Recent Water Testing by KDHE Shows Decrease of Contaminants in Washington County Streams Caused by Oil Spill

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) announced today that results from recent water testing on Mill Creek show a decrease in the concentration of contaminants over time and a downward trend in contaminants on Little Blue River. KDHE has been sampling the water in Mill Creek, located in Washington County, following a crude oil spill that occurred last month.

On December 9, 2022, a stream advisory was issued for Mill Creek downstream of the spill to the Little Blue River directing area residents not to come into contact or allow pets and livestock to contact the creek water. That advisory remains in effect.

Weather dependent, KDHE takes water samples weekly from multiple sites to measure levels of petroleum contaminants in the water. Additionally, KDHE staff review and analyze the daily water and soil sampling conducted by TC Energy’s contractors. The water is being analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds known to be present in this grade of crude oil known as diluted bitumen.

“Bitumen is a heavy grade of crude oil that is safely diluted for transportation down the pipeline,” Randy Carlson, PhD, Geologist and Director of Environmental Remediation at KDHE said. “Without dilution, it would not flow through a pipeline efficiently.”

TC Energy is temporarily diverting Mill Creek from a location upstream of the pipeline spill, to downstream of the containment dams. The diversion will assist in the clean-up and reclamation of the impacted zone of Mill Creek by limiting the quantity of unimpacted surface water that enters the containment area.

Specially constructed earthen dams have been effective at containing spilled material. However, trace amounts of petroleum contaminants have been detected downstream. The diversion of surface water around the impacted area will reduce the chance of further impacts downstream.

No public water supply intakes are present on the Little Blue River. TC Energy is providing water testing for residents with private water wells close to Mill Creek, the Little Blue River, or with private surface water intake for livestock or recreational ponds located on either of those streams. Inquiries about testing can be made by email at or by calling 1-855-920-4697.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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