NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — One month ago, an oilfield wastewater pipeline began leaking, but it wasn’t discovered until a little over a week ago.
About 8 miles northwest of Ray, 1.4 million gallons of saltwater leaked out of a pipeline operated by the Hess Corporation.
It reportedly began leaking on July 21, but the incident wasn’t reported until later, on August 15.
“Once we identified the leak, we shut in the pipeline and our priority right now is to clean up the water release. And again while nobody ever wants to see this type of thing happen, I can assure you that we are committed to doing the right thing here. And that’s why we are working with the state,” said Brent Lohnes, the general manager of Hess North Dakota.
The cause of the spill is still under investigation.
But, Lohnes says Hess is doing what it can.
“Right now we have three things that we’re doing on the location. One we have burning and dikes that are in place to contain the water. We’ve trenched to direct the water and collect water. And then we have water collection systems, vacuum trucks to pick up the water and dispose of it,” said Lohnes.
The pipeline was carrying a byproduct of oil production.
“The spill was produced water, which is wastewater that comes up with the oil from the oil wells. It’s a very salty brine,” said Karl Rockeman, the director of the Division of Water Quality for the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality.
Rockeman says there are two significant effects this type of spill has on the environment.
“The first is to the soils of the area. Salt is very harmful to the soils and the vegetation growing in that. The second impact is the localized groundwater. It has not impacted anybody’s drinking water source or does not relay anyone’s drinking water aquifers that we’ve not seen impacts to surface waters, but there is some amount of groundwater in the area that has been contaminated,” said Rockeman.
He adds it’s hard to tell when the spill will be completely cleaned up, but it will take at least a year.
Hess Corporation is in charge of cleaning up the spill and the state is in charge of making sure that happens and that the environment is restored to its once normal condition.