Mar 15, 2014
How Much Oil Spilled on North Dakota? No One Knows
Posted on Oct 16, 2013
A leak likely caused by a rusty pipe has pointed up some of the dangers and regulatory shortcomings of moving oil through remote regions—and created a localized environmental disaster in North Dakota, where the new oil and gas drilling boom has had significant environmental and economic effects.
The spill, via a Tesoro pipeline, was discovered on Sept. 29 by local farmer Steve Jensen who smelled oil in the air as he was harvesting wheat. Tracking down the odor, he discovered a 7.3 acre lake of crude oil covering part of his farmland. He immediately got in touch with Tesoro, according to The Associated Press, but state regulators didn’t know until more than a week later that a spill Tesoro initially estimated at 750 barrels was much, much larger. A public announcement wasn’t made until Oct. 10, a delay that Worldmag.com says raises questions about whether state regulators are too cozy with the people they are supposed to be monitoring:
Meanwhile, experts say the leak estimate is based on insufficient data, and that no one really knows how much oil spilled from the pipeline into the ground. But better monitoring, they say, could eliminate the guesswork behind the estimate.
Tesoro is cleaning up the spill, a process that so far has involved burning off surface oil, then digging deep trenches to vacuum up oil-soaked dirt.
As for Jensen, the farmer, at last word he was trying to find out exactly how much of his crop was damaged by the spill.
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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