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In this photo taken Jan. 12, 2015, crews dig up land at a saltwater spill site near Blacktail Creek outside Williston, N.D. A North Dakota health official called the 70,000 barrel spill the state's largest during the state's current oil boom. (AP Photo/Williston Herald, Zack Nelson)
In this photo taken Jan. 12, 2015, crews dig up land at a saltwater spill site near Blacktail Creek outside Williston, N.D. A North Dakota health official called the 70,000 barrel spill the state's largest during the state's current oil boom. (AP Photo/Williston Herald, Zack Nelson)

ND county objects to any lowered fine in large pipeline spill

WILLISTON, N.D. — The Williams County Commission has gone on record as opposing a reduction of a $2.4 million fine levied against a Texas company for the largest pipeline spill in North Dakota history.

State regulators are considering easing the record fine levied in June against pipeline owner Summit Midstream Partners. Regulators routinely settle on fines, saying it promotes cooperation with proper cleanup and diligence against future spills.

Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Mineral Resources, told The Associated Press recently that the state and the company are “actively negotiating a settlement.”

The 3 million-gallon spill of saltwater and oil was discovered in early January near Williston. Saltwater is a byproduct of oil production.

Regulators believe the ruptured pipeline had been leaking unnoticed for three months. Officials said it primarily contaminated Blacktail Creek but also flowed into the Little Muddy and Missouri rivers.

The Williams County Commission has directed its attorney to write a letter to the state objecting to any lowered fine, the Williston Herald reported.

“When we have a spill of this magnitude, it behooves us to give the state notice that no, we don’t believe the penalty should be lower in this situation,” County Commissioner Dan Kalil said. “From what I read, that pipeline leaked for three months and no one caught it. When are we going to move beyond allowing these things to happen and then not doing anything about them afterwards?”

In related news, North Dakota regulators mull easing pipeline spill fine.

Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com

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