North Dakota's Delay In Reporting Oil Spill Raises Questions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

North Dakota's Delay In Reporting Oil Spill Raises Questions

The handling of an oil spill in North Dakota is raising questions, after a state agency waited to tell the public it had taken place. A wheat farmer was the first to recognize the spill had happened; it became public knowledge nearly two weeks later.

Here's how the AP describes the spill's discovery:

"Farmer Steve Jensen says he smelled the crude for days before the tires on his combines were coated in it. At the apparent break in the Tesoro Corp.'s underground pipeline, the oil was 'spewing and bubbling 6 inches high,' he said in a telephone interview Thursday."

One day after Jensen spotted the large leak, Tesoro told state officials; 11 days later, the spill became public knowledge.

Officials at the North Dakota Department of Health say that at first, they didn't realize the spill's size, according to a report filed for our Newscast unit by NPR's Sam Sanders.

With more than 20,000 barrels of crude covering more than seven acres of land, the spill is one of the largest in the state's history. It's far larger than the leak that occurred in Arkansas earlier in 2013. The leak has been stopped, officials say.

The incident is giving ammunition to critics who fault the way North Dakota has dealt with the oil boom the state has benefited from for several years now.

Theodora Bird Bear of the Dakota Resource Council tells Sam Sanders that the Health Department's actions are part of a larger pattern.

"There's a lot of revenue coming in from oil and gas development out here," she says. "But there's also a lot of costs that are unmeasured and never really acknowledged. North Dakota can do better."

As Sam reports, "In a statement, Tesoro said the spill caused no injuries or known impacts to water, wildlife or the surrounding environment."

State officials say the spill's potential damage was limited by a thick band of clay that lies beneath the area of the leak, keeping the oil from seeping into the ground water.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Not My Job: Brady Bunch's Florence Henderson Gets Quizzed On Weird Science

For decades, Florence Henderson, who presided over the Brady Bunch, was America's perfect Mom. We'll ask Henderson three questions about the Ig Nobels — awarded for real, if ridiculous, research.
NPR

Tracing A Gin-Soaked Trail In London

Around the world, new gin distilleries are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. NPR traces the boom to its historic roots in London, which once had 250 distilleries within the city limits alone.
NPR

Ranting And Throwing Papers: An Angry Candidate Runs For Congress

State Rep. Mike Bost's rants on the Illinois House floor are the stuff viral dreams are made of. Bost says he has good reason to be upset, and wants voters to share his anger.
NPR

Tech Week: Voice Mail Hang-Ups, Apple Pay And Zuckerberg's Chinese

In this week's roundup, Apple rolls out its mobile payment system but confronts a security test in China, the problem with voice mail messages and Mark Zuckerberg shows off his Mandarin.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.