North Dakota saltwater spill cleanup could take years


The site where an underground pipeline owned by Crestwood Midstream Partners (CMLP +0.3%) leaked 1M gallons of saltwater into the North Dakota badlands earlier this month could take at least three years to clean up, according to an official involved in the cleanup.

CMLP says there is no evidence the spill reached Lake Sakakawea, a source of drinking water for the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation; beaver dams are credited with helping contain the leak.

Saltwater (brine) is a byproduct of oil production that can be 30x saltier than seawater, and is considered an environmental hazard.

Comments (9)
  • Clayton Rulli
    , contributor
    Comments (3408) | Send Message
     
    wow that is bad. pipelines need a better spill control system... can they utilize valves and sensors in a better fashion?
    22 Jul 2014, 10:27 AM Reply Like
  • Marek
    , contributor
    Comments (1516) | Send Message
     
    Absolutely correct. One wonders how many of these are out there waiting or hidden in the wings?

     

    There is always room to improve, and usually one can find as much bonehead preventible things as one is willing to look for, but as one who has had witness to a good deal of legal advice in my day job, admitting or even hinting of anything can be very bad for your legal and financial health, to the point of assuring that such bad things occur all the more. So prevention takes a back seat all too often, almost forcing adverse events to occur and in the extreme. Perverse but that is the dynamic.
    23 Jul 2014, 12:38 AM Reply Like
  • Clayton Rulli
    , contributor
    Comments (3408) | Send Message
     
    they scary thing is underwater pipe transmitting from the Gulf into loiusianana and texas. What happens when those leak!
    24 Jul 2014, 01:49 PM Reply Like
  • davidbdc
    , contributor
    Comments (3194) | Send Message
     
    Not good to say the lease. Hope the state government gives them a heft fine - enough to pay for the entire cleanup.

     

    I support fracking and development, but we have to do it correctly - otherwise the environmental wackos will gain public support and stop the flow entirely.
    22 Jul 2014, 11:56 AM Reply Like
  • ebob
    , contributor
    Comments (20) | Send Message
     
    It's not just salt in that water,to bad things can't be done right from the beginning instead of cutting costs to boost profits!
    22 Jul 2014, 02:14 PM Reply Like
  • carbonates
    , contributor
    Comments (73) | Send Message
     
    1. They did have sensors on the pipeline. That is how they detected the leak. Without the sensors the spill might have been much larger.
    The North Dakota Industrial Commissioner said this:
    "The Mandaree spill happened on tribal lands where the state has very little regulatory authority. More importantly, the pipeline responsible for this spill was equipped with multiple flow meters and pressure cutoff switches. The Mandaree saltwater spill highlights what I have said all along, these technologies are not very effective methods of preventing or limiting the impact of spills."

     

    2. This is on an Indian Reservation, so the state has little jurisdiction on a sovereign nation's lands- tribal lands. In many states oil and gas operations have entirely different rules on tribal lands and compliance with state regulations is often done only on a voluntary basis. The Indians make the rules here.

     

    All that said, yes I am sure everyone wishes there were better remote sensing devices, and there is sure to be liability. This highlights the problem of compromise between trucking produced water, where everyone complains about the traffic, and using pipelines to get it to disposal wells, which is cheaper in the long run and often considered to be safer considering the number of truck trips that would have been involved. Pipelines are generally considered to be the best alternative for the environment and for safety. However, salt water is corrosive and destroys pipelines with time. People don't seem to realize that many conventional wells produce up to 90% brine. The API estimates that for every barrel of oil produced, another 5-6 barrels of water are produced (for conventional production- unconventional typically produces almost no water after the initial flowback). This problem is only coincidentally related to fracing wells. It is a problem that has existed as long as oil and gas has been produced, and is only getting extra media attention because they think it is related to fracing wells. It is not.
    23 Jul 2014, 10:59 AM Reply Like
  • ebob
    , contributor
    Comments (20) | Send Message
     
    It would seem that Carbonates has a hat full of reasons to just disregard these types of occurrences and that we should just blindly maintain the status quo!
    24 Jul 2014, 01:21 PM Reply Like
  • carbonates
    , contributor
    Comments (73) | Send Message
     
    My comments reflect my interests as an investor. Perhaps you will find the kind of rhetorical and hyperbolic commentary you prefer on sites like Huffington Post or Grist. I am not sure you understand the nature of Seeking Alpha. If you don't want to understand the problem, you will never solve it.
    25 Jul 2014, 09:44 AM Reply Like
  • ebob
    , contributor
    Comments (20) | Send Message
     
    I am not blind to the fact that the items you listed as being installed have failed to prevent this from occurring, and you instead might look to better means of prevention rather than making snide comments!
    25 Jul 2014, 02:43 PM Reply Like
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