More than 8,000 gallons of gasoline spilled into a field north of Lawrence on Tuesday when a farmer hit a pipeline with a plow. No injuries were reported.
Environmental crews were beginning cleanup work Tuesday afternoon, and officials said the accident could have been worse - the rupture came three hours after the line's owners shut it down.
"Because of that, the damage will be less than if it had been transporting fuel," said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which was overseeing cleanup.
Kelly Swan, spokesman for the Williams Companies, which owns the pipeline, said repairs would begin as soon as gasoline still in the pipeline could be drained, and should be complete within a day. He didn't have a timeline for the cleanup, which may include digging up contaminated soil and removing it to an environmental dump.
"We're going to get it taken care of as quickly and thoroughly as possible," Swan said.
The rupture occurred on land owned by Roger Pine of Pine Family Farms. Pine was not available for comment.
The 10-inch diameter section of pipeline carries gasoline between El Dorado and Kansas City, Swan said.
Though the flow had been shut off hours before the accident, there was enough gasoline in the line to spurt up in a 10-foot geyser after the break, Watson and witnesses said.
The cold temperatures helped minimize the danger of explosion, said Deputy Chief Mark Bradford of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.
"We were well below any flash point," he said.
An official with the Kansas Corporation Commission said regulations require such lines to be 30 inches below the surface of the ground when installed. But there are no requirements to maintain that depth; soil erosion has brought many pipelines closer to the surface in the 30 or 40 years since most lines were installed.