Last week, large volumes of saltwater were spilled in the northwest corner of North Dakota due to a broken pipeline, reports the North Dakota Department of Health.
The spill occurred about seven miles northwest of Crosby in Divide County, releasing over 4,000 barrels, or over roughly 179,000 gallons, of brine water. According to the Williston Herald, Oklahoma-based Samson Resources reported the spill last Wednesday and has since recovered approximately 9,500 gallons since the incident, which had occurred around 3:30 p.m. The timeline of the spill, however, has been brought into question.
The Environmental Protection Agency states that this water is usually extremely toxic to the environment and contains radioactive material and heavy metals. The water is many times saltier than sea water and the toxic substances can be extremely damaging to the environment and public health if released onto the surface.
As reported by the Herald, Divide County Emergency Services and 911 Coordinator Jody Gunlock disagrees with state official’s estimates of when the spill actually occurred. “It was apparent from the dead vegetation that this spill started earlier than August 5, the reported date of the incident and there was also some oil that leaked,” Gunlock told the Herald.
With the help of state officials, Samson is working on a remediation plan and has already set up containment berms. In a statement, the company said, “We have notified the appropriate regulatory authorities and landowners and are taking all appropriate action to address this situation.” Field inspectors with the Health Department are no longer on-site but have tested nearby waters for contamination.
The site is located in a wetland and the brine has spilled into an adjacent field, Gunlock told the Herald. The majority of the spill has been absorbed by the ground and a contractor working on the cleanup has dug several holes from which to suck water out from. NDDoH environmental scientist Bill Suess said that “It’s pretty unlikely that we have impacts to groundwater and drinking waters.” He added that the spill occurring prior to the reported time and date is a possibility.