North Dakota Government Silent on Oil Spill

by Emily Bonney

Widener University Political Science Major

On September 29th, a North Dakota Farmer discovered a large oil spill covering his lands – over 7 acres worth. The crude oil came from an underground pipeline owned by Tesoro Corporation which has the line running from a town close by to Columbus, near the Canadian border.  The issue with this is not the spill itself, but long time between being discovered and officially reported. , but the state waited almost two weeks to let the public know. Since North Dakota is becoming increasingly involved in the oil industry, the article brought to light how the state is handling problems like these that could have serious effects on both the environmental and surrounding communities.

While the spill was contained by a layer of clay underground so no water sources were affected, the article also says that no wildlife or people were harmed by this incident which I find hard to believe. The land is no longer able to be farmed for several years which will affect the farmer in various ways, and in a field of wheat where rodents are known to proliferate, having their habitat destroyed throws off the ecosystem for them and the animals depending on them as a food source. Tesoro’s company will pay for the cleanup and fix the pipe, but the question still remains as to how we are going to prevent more of these spills in the future?

It is highly concerning that the state did not think it necessary to notify the public of this event when the article also reminds us that there had been an oil spill in March one quarter of this size in which people were evacuated for their safety. Government officials are all trying to downplay the situation to make it seem as if it will be okay, but these spills are happening more frequently and there have been no significant policy changed to reflect this. We need to remember that our land is the most important resource we have, and the safety of people is more significant than the delivery of oil.



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