The Norman Transcript

State/Region

March 22, 2014

N.D. pipeline break leaks 34,000 gallons of crude oil

BISMARCK, N.D. — Cleanup workers have contained about 34,000 gallons of crude that spewed from a broken oil pipeline in northwestern North Dakota, a state health official said Friday.

North Dakota Water Quality Director Dennis Fewless said the breach occurred Thursday morning on Hiland Crude LLC’s pipeline about 6 miles northeast of Alexander. A gasket on the above-ground pipeline appears to have failed near a compressor station, spewing about 800 barrels of crude, Fewless said. A barrel holds 42 gallons.

Fewless said about half the oil migrated off the site but has been contained and no water sources are threatened. Hiland gave a lower estimate than state inspectors did for how much oil escaped the site, saying in a statement that “approximately 100 barrels of crude left the location, with an undetermined amount contained on location.”

The Enid, Okla.-based company said the environmental impact “is limited to contaminated soil, which is being removed from the site.”

Fewless said the cleanup likely will continue for a few days. The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department said a road to the spill site has been closed until the work is completed.

The spill occurred about 5 a.m. Thursday and Hiland notified North Dakota regulators about six hours later, Fewless said. State health inspectors have been on the scene since Thursday.

Hiland’s statement said its workers “immediately began emergency response activities” after detecting the spill. It said specialized cleanup contractors were at the site before 6:30 a.m. Thursday, and the flow of crude oil was “substantially controlled” at that time.

“They called in all the necessary forces to get it cleaned up,” Fewless said Friday. “They worked all night, got the leak stopped and got it contained. They are in cleanup mode right now.”

Fewless said oil migrated into a dry drainage that has been “diked off, contained and boomed.” But he said if a heavy spring rain hit during cleanup, oil could leach from the site.

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