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Pipeline ruptures in North Dakota

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World Pipelines,

A pipeline leak has spilt crude oil into the Ash Coulee creek in North Dakota after electronic monitoring equipment failed to detect a pipeline rupture in the Belle Fourche pipeline. The rupture has spewed over 176 000 gallons of crude oil according to the pipeline’s operator. This amount equates to a loss of approximately 4200 bbls before operators shut the pipe down.

CNBC News reported that state environmental scientist, Bill Suess, claimed that a local landowner discovered the spill on 5 December near the city of Belfield. Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for Casper, Wyoming-based True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche pipeline, told CNBC that the leak was contained within hours of the its discovery. However, it is not yet known why the equipment did not detect the leak.

The 6 in. Belle Fourche pipeline is primarily underground but is aboveground at the Ash Coulee creek crossing. The line was built in the 1980s and is used to gather oil from nearby oil wells to a collection point.

According to Suess, the spill migrated almost 6 miles from the spill site and fouled private and US Forest Service land along the waterway. 60 workers were on site on 12 December. While some of the oil remains trapped beneath the frozen creek, Suess claims that approximately 37 000 gallons of oil have been recovered.

The location of the spill is approximately 150 miles from a key Dakota Access protest camp. The potential of a pipeline leak that might taint drinking water occurring is at the core of the Dakota Access pipeline controversy. While Seuss has said that it appears that no drinking water sources were threatened, perhaps, this reasonably local spill may somewhat ‘add fuel to the fire’ with regards to the issues surrounding Dakota Access.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, has said that the pipeline would include safeguards such as leak detection equipment, with workers monitoring the pipeline remotely in Texas. It claims that staff could close valves within three minutes of a breach being detected.

The Associated Press has reported that True Cos., who is behind this spill, has declared 36 other spills since 2006, amounting to over 320 000 gallons of petroleum products lost. True Cos. operates at least three pipeline companies with a combined 1648 miles of line in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.

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