BISMARCK The oil patch in North Dakota has had 147 spills so far this year. State officials inspect the spills.
Mark Bohrer, UIC manager/ spill and statistical coordinator for the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, said, as of Feb. 15, those 147 spills have ranged from pipeline, pump, tank and treater leaks to truck overflows. He said most of the spills fall into those categories.
The N.D. Oil and Gas Division is a division of the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources. The division regulates the drilling and production of oil and gas in the state.
A truck carrying chemical for fracking went out of control on an icy road in the Mandaree area Jan. 2, spilling about 50 gallons of the fluid. As of Feb. 15, there’s been 147 spills in the western North Dakota oil patch.
Bohrer said the vast majority of spills are cleaned up right away, although some may take a little longer depending on if the spill stays on location. If they're off location, he said that can be trickier, but all are cleaned up.
The operator is responsible for the cleanup, whether they hire someone for the work or do it themselves, he said.
Last year there were roughly 1,100 spills in the oil field, Bohrer said.
"We look at all the spills," Bohrer said. He said those include spills on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Within about 10 days in January, two spills occurred on the reservation.
Cliff Whitman, New Town, director of Homeland Security and emergency services for the Three Affiliated Tribes, said about 1,000 gallons of crude oil spilled on the east side of New Town when the crude was being transferred from a truck to a rail car. The spill happened Jan. 11.
On Jan. 2, a truck carrying a chemical used for fracking went out of control on an icy stretch of Bureau of Indian Affairs Road 14 in the Mandaree area. Whitman said 50 gallons of the fluid spilled.
Whitman said both spills have been cleaned up.
Inspecting spills is a cooperative effort between the N.D. Oil and Gas Division and the N.D. Health Department.
Currently, there are six field inspectors each in Minot and Williston offices, and seven in the Dickinson field office, said Alison Ritter, Bismarck, public information officer for the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources.
There's also a reclamation specialist who is a former field inspector in the Bismarck office.
During the 2011-2013 biennium, 17 new positions, including a number of field inspectors, were allocated for the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources, Ritter said.
During the 2009-2011 biennium, 56 new positions were allocated for that department, she said.