BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota American Indian tribe no longer wants fiberglass-based pipelines on its reservation after recent spills.
Last month, a pipeline spilled more than 33,000 gallons of brine in a pasture on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The spill occurred on a segment of pipeline that was scheduled to be replaced.
The pipeline is made of a material called Fiberspar LinePipe. That’s the same fiberglass-reinforced material tied to two of the largest brine spills in North Dakota history, The Bismarck Tribune reported Sunday.
Three Affiliated Tribes Pipeline Authority Travis Hallam said the tribe’s business council is no longer allowing fiberglass-based materials for new pipelines that carry waste water, a byproduct of oil production. Instead, the tribe wants coated steel lines, he said.
“It was involved in far too many failures to be considered an acceptable material to protect us from the produced water it was transporting,” Hallam said.
Crestwood Midstream owns the pipeline involved in the Sept. 3 spill on the reservation. Crestwood also owns the pipeline that contaminated Lake Sakakawea in July 2014 after 1 million gallons of brine spilled near Mandaree and is replacing Fiberspar pipelines in environmentally sensitive areas on Fort Berthold.
A spokesman for Fiberspar LinePipe, a division of National Oilwell Varco, said the pipeline material is safe for transporting produced water if installed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. The company says improper installation is the main source of damage to the product.
The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources’ gathering pipeline regulations do not specify pipeline material. The state’s rules focus on enforcing proper installation of pipelines, said Kevin Connors, the department’s pipeline program supervisor.
“Our initial concerns are that the (Sept. 3) spill may have been caused by the way it was installed, not necessarily the material but the actual installation of the pipe,” Connors said.
When the Crestwood system and many other Fiberspar pipelines were installed in the Bakken, North Dakota did not have oversight over construction of gathering pipelines.
In June 2015, the Three Affiliated Tribes began implementing pipeline regulations. North Dakota’s gathering pipeline rules took effect in January.