A North Dakota pipeline spill has allowed more than 20,000 barrels — or 800,000 gallons — of crude oil to enter one of the state’s wheat fields, representing a worst-case scenario for farmers attempting to operate in pipeline-heavy areas.
The spill is measured as the one of the largest in the nation, covering more than 7 acres, according to the National Response Center, which filed a report Oct. 8. The story didn’t break until Oct. 10.
According to a local farmer, Steven Jensen, who reported the spill, the response team for Tesoro Logistics LP didn’t arrive immediately after he filed his complaint — instead, it took them one day to dispatch a team, which dug ditches around the contaminated ground in an attempt to halt the oil from traveling.
The last high-profile inland oil spill came in March in Mayflower, Ark., when an ExxonMobil pipeline allowed 7,000 barrels of crude to enter residential areas.
According to an Associated Press report, Jensen said he had been smelling oil for days before he realized that the tire of his combine had picked up the liquid. The farmer, Steve Jensen, told the AP that when he discovered the actual site of the pipeline spill, he witnessed oil “spewing and bubbling six inches high.”
As far as his crop goes, Jensen told Reuters that it had disintegrated.
“You wouldn’t have known it was a wheat plant,” he said.
According to Reuters, authorities indicated there were no reports of contamination of lakes, streams or rivers within five miles of the spill at this point, although the impacts of the spill, which coated the top 10 feet of soil, have yet to be fully felt.
The pipeline is owned by Tesoro Logistics LP, a publicly traded company formed by Tesoro Corporation, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. According to the company, the pipeline has been temporarily shut down for repairs.
The pipeline, which measures six inches, was transporting oil from North Dakota’s famous Bakken formation to a site in Columbus, N.D.
The spill, which went unreported for days, comes as the nation is still in the midst of the fight over the Keystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that would transport more than 830,000 gallons of oil each day from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Nebraska farmers in particular have been vocal in their opposition to the pipeline, citing concerns over eminent domain being enacted by a foreign corporation and the likelihood that a spill would lead to contamination of their crops, as is the case right now in North Dakota.
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