More spills in the oil and gas industry

The oil and gas industry claims it is always working to improve its operations. Where is the proof? To the contrary, the news about spills keeps coming.

  • Last week it was reported that a pipeline carrying oil and gas wastewater on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota leaked 1 million gallons. An unknown amount spilled into Bear Den Bay, a bay that leads to Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water for the reservation. Although it's reported that no wastewater reached the lake, more investigation is needed to fully analyze the impacts of the spill. Officials report dead trees and other vegetation, and guessed that the pipeline had been leaking for a while. There was no leak detection system for the pipeline. Earlier this year, a North Dakota farmer testified at a hearing that, three years later, he still cannot farm land that was contaminated in 2011 by wastewater spilled from a leaking pipeline, even though a company had tried remediation.
  • In Ohio, a malfunction in a hose during a fracking operation led to a truck catching on fire. The fire spread, and ultimately about 20 trucks were involved in mutliple explosions on the well pad. Around the same time it was determined that a large fish kill had occurred in nearby Opossum Creek, with thousands of dead fish being found along five miles of the creek. Prior to the explosions, Opossum Creek was considered to be a superior high quality water source by the state. It hasn't yet been confirmed that the wellpad was the source of the spill that turned the creek orange and caused the fish kill, but hopefully the public will have more information soon. In Ohio, wellpads are allowed only 50 feet from a stream or other body of water, a woefully inadequate buffer.
  • In Texas, it's been reported that state agencies--the Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality--are not aggressively pursuing documented spill cases. The Deputy Sheriff for Environmental Crimes for Jim Wells County contacted the TRRC about spills of black, oily substances on local roads, but the TRRC "didn't show much interest in the reports he sent," took years to investigate some cases, and rarely did more than issue a letter of reprimand. He took it upon himself to enforce the law. So far this year alone he has written up nearly a dozen offenders for transporting oil and gas waste without a permit, spilling oil and gas waste on a roadway, or using unmarked trucks to carry  the waste.

These incidents are unacceptable. The oil and gas industry should have zero tolerance for environmental contamination--any spill is one too many.