Shimkus Gets First-Hand Look at Highland Spill Response, Questions Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Congressman John Shimkus took this photo of the pumping station where the leak occurred off the main pipeline.

Congressman John Shimkus on Friday got a first-hand look at the cleanup of last Friday’s oil leak from the Plains pumping station northeast of Highland. Earlier this week he also questioned Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Interim Director, Stacy Cummings, about the situation during an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing.

Protective booms were deployed along Silver Creek to prevent approximately 100 barrels of crude oil from reaching Silver Lake.
Protective booms were deployed along Silver Creek to prevent approximately 100 barrels of crude oil from reaching Silver Lake.
An additional boom was deployed around the water plant intake on Silver Lake as an added precaution.
An additional boom was deployed around the water plant intake on Silver Lake as an added precaution.

Officials have concluded that the leak does not pose a threat to drinking water supplies from Silver Lake. In a congressional hearing on Tuesday (video below), Shimkus noted that TransCanada, operators of the Keystone Pipeline, provided Highland with a spill response trailer that was used by firefighters to contain the spill before it reached the lake.

In the hearing, Shimkus asked Cummings to explain how the criteria and benchmarks in PHMSA’s Corrective Action Order could provide the local community with some certainty that the pipeline will be safe when it resumes operation. Cummings said the order, which was issued on Tuesday, would look at pipefittings across the pipeline network as well as how long it took for Plains to notify emergency responders of the situation.

Shimkus also asked Cummings what actions Congress could take to help PHMSA collect data from states and localities about drinking water supplies to aid in future analysis, planning and responses.

To view a video of the congressional hearing, CLICK HERE.