Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oil Pipeline Spills a North Dakota Problem

A new report from the Associated Press has identified nearly 300 oil spills in North Dakota over the past two years.  Many of them are small, but there were nearly 750 oilfield incidents as well. 

The most recent spill was over 20,000 barrels worth of oil into a wheat field.  North Dakota is the #2 oil producing state in the country behind Texas.

Many of these incidents go unreleased to the public.  North Dakota regulators, like in many other oil-producing states, are not obliged to tell the public about oil spills under state law. But in a state that's producing a million barrels a day and saw nearly 2,500 miles of new pipelines last year, many believe the risk of spills will increase, posing a bigger threat to farmland and water.

"We're certainly looking at that now and what would be a threshold for reporting to the public," Dennis Fewless, director of water quality for the state Health Department said. Taking notice of the recent criticism, the state issued a statement October 17 on an estimated seven barrel oil spill in Divide County, which borders Canada in far northwestern North Dakota.

Read about my travels in South Dakota

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