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The Little Muddy River below Cow Creek near Williston, North Dakota. (Photo: USGS)

Officials worried about saltwater spill into Little Muddy

BISMARCK, N.D. — A saltwater spill north of Williston reached the Little Muddy River, but state officials said it would be a while before harm to the environment can be measured.

The saltwater spilled from a pipeline into Blacktail Creek and from there flowed into the Little Muddy. The spill was detected last week and the amount isn’t yet known, but state Water Quality Director Karl Rockeman said it is “sizeable.”

“We tested 19 different spots in both Blacktail Creek and the Little Muddy,” he said. “The tests do show, definitely, water impact from saltwater brine at levels that would be considered toxic for aquatic organisms.”

Saltwater is a byproduct of oil production. It can be 10 times saltier than ocean water.

Summit Midstream Partners, which operates the pipeline, told the Minot Daily News that the company is “100 percent focused on remediation and cleanup” and that determining the size of the spill is an “ongoing process.”

Kent Luttschwager, a wildlife resource management official in Williston with the state Game and Fish Department, told the Williston Herald that it will be hard to determine damage to wildlife until the ice melts. The creek might not have had any fish in it but the river certainly did, Game and Fish Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator Fred Ryckman told the Minot Daily News.

“We know downstream the Health Department didn’t see any living stuff at all,” he said. “That stuff seeps down into the ground. It just goes everywhere. How many barrels was it? That’s the million dollar question.”

In related news, Brine spills into creek north of Williston.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.