Environmental

Massive North Dakota oil spill will take four years to clean up

wheat Wikimedia Commons photo by User Bluemoose own work Massive North Dakota oil spill will take four years to clean upAn oil spill that covered a northwestern North Dakota wheat field after a Tesoro Corp. pipeline ruptured two years ago was supposed to be cleaned up by now, but state regulators have said it will take another two and a half years to complete the cleanup with crews working 24-7.

The pipeline break was discovered in September 2013 after it already had saturated the equivalent of seven football fields of farmland belonging to Steve and Patty Jensen with crude oil. Both Tesoro and U.S. government officials believe a lightning strike was the probable cause of the break, underscoring the vulnerability of oil pipelines to unpredictable threats.

The subsequent oil spill flooded the Jensen farm near Tioga, N.D., with more than 20,000 barrels of crude. It was one of the largest onshore oil spills in U.S. history and the worst oil spill ever for North Dakota.

To date, cleanup crews have removed about 6,000 barrels of oil from the land. Tesoro initially said the spill would cost $4 million to clean up but then revised that figure to $20 million.

“Our primary goal of remediation continues to be to restore the property to agricultural use, and protect groundwater,” Tesoro said in a statement.

Bill Suess, a N.D. Heath Department scientist, told the Bismarck Tribune that the spill will take a total of four years to clean up.  He inspects the progress of the cleanup weekly and said that cleanup crews will use a process called thermal desorption to “bake” the crude from the soil.

Mr. Suess told the Bismarck Tribune that the state’s only concern is that the land is restored to normal and able to sustain crops again, no matter the cost.

“Our position is that they are going to clean it up and it’s not our concern how much it costs them,” he told the Bismarck Tribune.

Patty Jensen told the paper that the spill has “just become part of our lives.”

“They are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But it’s so big and it’s not as easy to clean up as they thought it would be,” she told the Bismarck Tribune.

Source: Bismarck Tribune