Friday, September 22, 2023

Not a Good Kind of Rainbow


I like rainbows - most of the time. But when "rainbows" are in creek water, it's not a good thing.

We were notified Wednesday, September 13, about an oil spill that impacted our Rattlesnake Creek Pasture. The "rainbow" in the creek water was the sheen of oil floating on the surface of the Rattlesnake Creek. 

Google map
Google map - From

On September 12, the Kansas Corporation Commission notified the Environmental Protection Agency of the oil discharge to Rattlesnake Creek in Stafford County, according to Ben Washburn, Public Affairs Officer for EPA Region 7.

Google map
Google map - From

An article in The Hutchinson Post said that the responsible party reported 90,000 gallons of brine, or salt water generated during oil production, spilled from a disposal well line that transects Rattlesnake Creek approximately 0.25 mile east of NE 90th Avenue. The brine contained an estimated 600 to 700 gallons of oil.

This Haz Mat vehicle was in the pasture, and we met another Haz Mat trailer on the road as we were leaving.

The oil company and the EPA responded quickly. Once on site, the  EPA On-Scene Coordinator observed areas of sheening and small pockets of oil up to 2.1 miles from the source of the spill, including our pasture. Responsible party contractors have recovered approximately 160 barrels (6,720 gallons) of mostly brine to date. The responsible party contractors are continuing oil containment and recovery operations under EPA oversight. On Friday, small amounts of oil were observed up to 4 miles downstream of the spill location, according to Washburn. They reported no observed impacts within the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, which is a few miles away from our pasture. 

Randy talking with a Haz Mat crew after they'd built a dam over the creek in our pasture.

 To corral the oil, they placed a boom along Rattlesnake Creek to prevent further oil migration. 

The disposal well line that was the source of the spill was isolated and is no longer actively leaking, according to the EPA.

Sunday night, we were back in the pasture to see the progress made.

Ironically, it wasn't the only oil leak in the pasture. We were in Topeka and Kansas City celebrating birthdays when we got a phone call from the Millers, who care for our cattle and their own at the Rattlesnake Pasture. A different pumping unit was spraying oil. Todd got the unit shut off, but it did leave behind some oil.


On Wednesday, Randy went back to the pasture and found that the oil company had already cleaned up the site and the well was up and pumping again.

The booms are still in place on the creek, though, and he said there were plenty of Haz Mat Response team vehicles supervising the progress. (Unlike me, he didn't take any photos.) They told Randy that they'd likely remove the booms and the dam in a few days.



  1. Thankfully their response has been swift and seemingly successful. I hope so.

    1. It could definitely be worse. They seem to be on top of things.