Power Failure Causes ND Tank Overflow

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 @ 03:05 PM gHale

Most of a contained release has been recovered at a saltwater disposal well in McKenzie County, North Dakota, said officials at the state Oil and Gas Division.

McKenzie Energy Partners reported 6,300 gallons of oil and 6,300 gallons of saltwater released Monday and ended up contained within site diking about 13 miles northeast of Alexander. All but 84 gallons of saltwater ended up recovered.

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Authorities say a power failure caused the tank to overflow.

The Oil and Gas Division received word of the release Monday. A state inspector has been to the location.

This is just another case of oil spills in North Dakota.

In the year ending on May 1, North Dakota’s oil and gas industry reported 745 involved oil spills which averages out to a spill every 11 hours and 45 minutes, according to the state’s Department of Health.

Granted, some of the spills were small.

On the other hand, some of the larger spills reached 400 barrels, or 16,800 gallons.

Two weeks ago, a Continental Resources pipeline in western North Dakota spilled 756 gallons of oil and 294 gallons of saltwater or brine, a drilling byproduct, into a tributary of the Little Missouri River. Continental Resources, the largest operator in the Bakken shale formation, leads North Dakota in active wells, spills of all kinds, and wastewater or brine spills, according to an Inside Energy report.

Along the lines of the bigger spills, in one on May 18, 2016, a tank in Bowman County overflowed, spilling 400 barrels of crude oil and 2,400 barrels of brine onto the ground, where it topped a retaining dike and flowed for 150 yards outside the facility, according to a KCET report.

That spill came within half a mile from the nearest residence and its water well.

On top of that, there were other spills in 2016 larger than 400 barrels.

On December 5, a farmer found crude oil was leaking from a six-inch pipeline buried on his property, and running down into nearby Ash Coulee Creek. Ash Coulee Creek, near Belfield in southwestern North Dakota, is a tributary of the Little Missouri River, which flows into the main stem of the Missouri River at Lake Sakakawea.

The Belle Fourche Pipeline Company, owner of the broken pipeline, eventually determined the leak had been ongoing for five days when the landowner found it. At first, the company reported to the state that 4,200 barrels had spilled from the rupture. By march, the company had upped that estimate to 12,615 barrels. Cleanup continues: in that same week in March, Bell Fourche reported it had recovered only 4,000 barrels of oil from the creek, and that workers had set the floating oil on fire more than 1,200 times since December.

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