Huge North Dakota Oil Spill Ruins Crops

EPA unable to assess due to shutdown

This marks the largest oil spill in North Dakota since 1 million barrels of salt water brine, a by-product of oil production, leaked in 2006.     Photo: huyangshu/Shutterstock

A Tesoro Logsitics LP pipeline in North Dakota has ruptured, spilling more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into a nearby wheat field. The accident marks the biggest leak in the state since it became the country's second-largest oil producer last year.

Farmer Steven Jensen discovered the leak nine miles south of Tioga, North Dakota, on September 29, spilling "like a faucet," Jensen told Reuters. It created a stream "4 to 6 inches" across seven acres of wheat (the size of seven football fields) in a remote region of his 1,800-acre farm.

Although the spill marks one of the largest in North Dakota history, the regional Environmental Protection Agency office did not visit the site due to the government shutdown.

Tesoro Logistics, an oil company based in Texas, owns North Dakota's only oil refinery. The company said in a statement that the ruptured portion of the pipeline has been shut down. No water sources have been contaminated thanks to 40 feet of clay soil sopping up the spill before it could reach the underground supply, state environmental geologist Kris Roberts told The Guardian.

The affected pipeline, six inches in diameter, runs 35 miles underground from Tioga to Black Slough. The cause and duration of the spill remain unclear to Tesoro and state regulators, but Tesoro extrapolates the cost of repair, containment, and remediation at around $4 million.

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