North Dakota Announces New Oil Spill Site

According to an article in the Bismarck Tribune, the North Dakota Department of Health plans to launch a website this week for the public to monitor reported leaks and oil spills. Department officials were quoted saying that the new site will have data on current incidents and information on spills as far back as 1975.

Don Morrison, the executive director of the Dakota Resource Council, applauded the decision saying "It's a long time coming and a step in the right direction and something we've been asking for, for a while." Advocacy groups like the Dakota Resource Council have long pressed for more spill information made to be made public by the state, which they believe is difficult to access unless a person has specific knowledge of an incident from a pipeline or facility. 

The move by the state comes after a large spill was discovered in late September from a Tesoro Logistics pipeline that was originally discovered by a farmer near the town of Tioga - originally believed by the department to be 750 barrels - but grew substantially larger and ultimately became one of the largest onshore spills in U.S. history at 20,600 barrels. The department had been contemplating a new web platform to improve public access of spill information, and the large release in Tioga expedited that process said state officials. 

After the spill, in-line inspection data from a "smart pig" found serious safety concerns on the line which have since been addressed by Tesoro. According to the company, clean-up efforts have totaled roughly $4 million and have recovered over 5,000 barrels of oil. Since a safety order was issued by the  U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration the company has been required to:

  • Remove and analyze the pipe where the leak occurred;
  • Remove 1,200 feet of pipeline;
  • Install and reroute 1,500 feet of new seamless, fusion bonded epoxy coated pipeline;
  • Install leak detection equipment; 
  • Add high pressure and flow alarms; 
  • Performed additional integrity testing; and
  • Conduct hydrostatic testing of the replaced pipeline segments to ensure safety.