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Are ND Oil & Gas Officials Lying About Another Oil Spill? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   

OilSpillIt was funny, yesterday (October 10th), when North Dakota Public Radio broke in on their pre-recorded program to report "Breaking News" that another massive oil pipeline spill had occured in Northwestern North Dakota. Why was it funny?  Because the spill was discovered on September 29th.  Because the oil company responsible for the spill -- Tesoro -- and North Dakota's corrupt Oil & Gas officials have been quietly, secretly trying to deal with it.  They "initially burned oil from the surface but have since dug ditches and recovery wells." They also have vacuum oil recovery trucks on the scene, sucking the oil from the ditches and wells.  All this went on for 10 days without the public ever being made aware of the spill, at all.

Here's a snippet from one of the newspapers that is most responsible for bringing us the corrupt government that does this sort of thing:

Farmer Steve Jensen says he smelled the crude for days before the tires on his combines were coated in it. At the apparent break in the Tesoro Corp.'s underground pipeline, the oil was "spewing and bubbling 6 inches high," he said in a telephone interview Thursday.

What Jensen had found on Sept. 29 turned out it was one of the largest spills recorded in the state. At 20,600 barrels it was four times the size of a pipeline rupture in late March that forced the evacuation of more than 20 homes in Arkansas.

But it was 12 days after Jensen reported the spill before state officials told the public what had happened, raising questions about how North Dakota, which is in the midst of an oil boom, reports such incidents.

Bismarck Teabune

Other stories have some quotes from a state environmental geologist named "Kris Roberts."  Here's some of what Roberts has told reporters:

Roberts said state and federal regulators are monitoring the cleanup, and Tesoro estimated it would cost $4 million.

A natural layer of clay more than 40 feet thick underlies the spill site and has "held the oil up" so that it does not spread to underground water sources, Roberts said.

"It is completely contained and under control," Roberts said Thursday. "They got very lucky." 

Yahoo.com (AP)

Now, I don't know Roberts.  I also don't know if Roberts, or anybody else in North Dakota's state government, can be trusted when it comes to providing truthful information about oil spills.  

Remember our story on the understated impact of the oil rig blow-out at Van Hook (near New Town)? (Click here to read it.)  In that NorthDecoder exclusive, we quoted excerpts from news stories where Roberts provided misleading information to the "journalists" writing those stories. Roberts, for example, told Amy Dalrymple, of the Fargo Forum papers, that the oil mist drifted more than 2,000 feet to the southwest.  Well that's sort of true. 4,100 feet is "more than 2,000 feet."  It's a lot more. Double. And then some. So it seems misleading to say "more than 2,000 feet."  

In a story by Eloise Ogden of the Minot Daily News, Ogden says "State officials said the wind was blowing the mist away from the lake. Roberts said they were ready to put booms on the lake if needed."  

Okay... some things about that.  Who were the "state officials" who said the wind was blowing the mist away from the lake?  Was Roberts one of them? If so, he was lying. We later learned (and reported here, first) that the wind was blowing the mist over and onto the lake. And... It was December. Lake Sakakawea was frozen. Why would they put booms on a frozen lake? It doesn't make any sense. The initial reports from state officials were all lies. Then, when the truth came out about the significance of the spill, it only got covered here on NorthDecoder, out of state and in the Garrison-based newspapers.  Nobody in the media ever did a story focused on the lies and half-truths told by state officials at the time of the original blow-out.  

Why?  Next time you look through your local paper, count the completely pointless adds from oil companies.  Tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue is why the local news isn't covering this stuff.

Maybe Roberts is a good person. Maybe Roberts was misquoted in the Van Hook stories.  These guys all work for North Dakota's corrupt governor, attorney general and ag commissioner, so I don't trust any of them.  And they only make themselves seem more and more corrupt when they cover this stuff up for 12 days.  Again.

We still deserve better.


Comments (2)add comment

Claire Talltree said:

...
"They got very lucky." I doubt it. I especially doubt that the local farmers feel that way. Now CLEAN UP YOUR ACT, North Dakota... and provide us back with clean prairies and honest government reports.
 
October 12, 2013
Votes: +1

nimrodent said:

contained
Contained because of a clay layer 40 feet below the surface. So the sediments from the ground surface down to the clay layer contain oil. The crude oil will spread along the top of the clay layer. And, when it rains and when the snow melts in spring, water will travel through those sediments and eventually find its way into creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes. And the NDDOH declares success. SCIENCE!
 
October 14, 2013
Votes: +1

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