Tesoro Pipeline Spill: Leak Detection and Public Notification - - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Tesoro Pipeline Spill: Leak Detection and Public Notification -- Two System Failures?

Posted: Updated:
Sarahchristianson.com, September 30, 2013 Sarahchristianson.com, September 30, 2013
Renae VanBerkom Evensvold, September 30, 2013 Renae VanBerkom Evensvold, September 30, 2013


The Tesoro pipeline oil spill near Tioga, North Dakota, on September 29th has many concerned about why the public wasn't notified more quickly.  They're also wondering what caused the spill in the first place.

"They didn't think they needed to let the public know," says Don Morrison, Executive Director, Dakota Resource Council. 

Amid accusations of delayed public notification on the 20,000-plus barrel oil spill in a North Dakota field on September 29th, officials say they followed the law every step of the way.  According to the North Dakota Department of Health, their first responsibility is to identify public health issues.

"If there's a silver lining here, it was lost in a field that has no groundwater.  There is a clay barrier at ten to 14 feet and it's contained," says David Glatt, Section Chief, Environmental Health Section, North Dakota Department of Health. 

But critics are unhappy about the twelve day lapse between the oil spill and public notification.  "In some ways, this is business as usual at the North Dakota Health Department and the current North Dakota State Government," says Morrison of the Dakota Resource Council.

In an age where many say we already have too much government in our lives, others assert events like this highlight the need for more -- not less -- regulation and control.  

While the North Dakota Public Service Commission does not have jurisdiction once crude lines become operational, it says leak detection on this pipeline -- the SCADA System -- failed.  "So that's one of the key things of this investigation, as PHMSA continues with the investigation, is why didn't the SCADA System work the way it was supposed to?" says Brian Kalk, Chair, North Dakota Public Service Commission.

Going forward, it is suggested this shouldn't be left to the federal government alone.  Kalk says, "maybe we should look at the PSC getting more involved in the inspections of crude oil lines like this, because we do it with natural gas lines.  It takes more people, but we could go out and become almost like the next layer of protection for the State of North Dakota."

As for the public notification part of the problem, "that's something that we're looking at -- is how can we do a better job getting that information from the field into the office in a timely manner and getting that out to the public?" says Glatt.

The North Dakota Department of Health is informed Tesoro Logistics currently estimates clean-up at about $4-million dollars over the course of a couple years.


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