Fine Imposed for Pipeline Spill on North Dakota Reservation

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Crestwood Equity Partners has paid a $49,000 fine to the Environmental Protection Agency for a pipeline leak in 2014 that spilled 1 million gallons of produced water on the Fort Berthold Reservation in northwestern North Dakota and contaminated Lake Sakakawea.

The EPA also ordered Crestwood to provide the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation with at least $173,000 in spill-response equipment, the Bismarck Tribune reported Saturday.

Cleanup efforts are ongoing at the site near Mandaree. Crestwood is following an EPA-approved remediation plan that requires the company to install five groundwater monitoring wells.

The company estimates the pipeline leaked for five days before the spill was discovered in July 2014, according to the consent agreement. The spill traveled through a ravine, with about 10,500 gallons of produced water, a waste byproduct of oil production, reaching Bear Den Bay of Lake Sakakawea, a reservoir on the Missouri River that’s one of the largest man-made lakes in the U.S. An estimated 234,528 gallons reached an unnamed creek.

Crestwood paid the civil penalty to the EPA on Thursday and has until April 30 to provide spill response equipment to the MHA Nation, EPA spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool said.

A Crestwood spokeswoman declined to comment Friday.

Lisa DeVille, president of the Fort Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights, said she’s frustrated that she’s not seeing more progress with the cleanup.

“Mother Earth is slowly dying back there,” she said. “This brine, this wastewater, is killing her.”

The cleanup is likely to be a long-term effort. For example, remediation is still ongoing after a 2006 spill into Charbonneau Creek in northwest North Dakota that also involved about 1 million gallons of produced water.

“A big saltwater spill can easily take 10 years or more to clean up,” said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health. “That’s not saying that this one will, because we’ve had others that have been large spills that have been cleaned up much faster.”

MHA Nation Chairman Mark Fox said the tribe plans to assess its own penalty against Crestwood.

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