Pipeline company says spill contained: Three Affiliated Tribes to take over investigation on leak into Missouri River
MANDAREE — The owner of a pipeline that is leaking near the Missouri River said Wednesday that the leak has been contained.
The leak was discovered Tuesday in a remote area of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, but an official estimate of the size of the leak has not been released.
Jerry Samuelson, emergency manager for McKenzie County, said Tuesday the leaking pipeline was being used to carry saltwater, a byproduct of oil production, but that it had previously been used to transport oil and still contains crude oil residue.
Saltwater, or brine, is piped away from well sites for disposal. When released, it’s high salinity can damage water and plant life.
The leak is near Bear Den Bay on Lake Sakakawea, a reservoir of the Missouri, about four miles northeast of Mandaree and about 1½ miles from the river.
Samuelson said Tuesday that an oil sheen could be seen on the lake.
The pipeline is a gathering system owned by Arrow Pipeline, a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners.
“Once the leak was discovered, we immediately notified applicable regulatory agencies and the Three Affiliated Tribes and are working closely with them to determine the cause of the spill and mitigate its impact,” the company said in the statement.
“Crestwood is deeply committed to the health, safety and environmental well being of the communities in which it works.”
To allay fears about the potential impact to the community’s drinking water, Randy Phelan, Three Affiliated Tribes West Segment council representative, issued a public service announcement Tuesday saying he, along with state, federal, county and tribal officials and pipeline company representatives, “conducted a spill assessment” of the site, which included an aerial inspection and a survey of Lake Sakakawea by boat.
An attempt was made to walk the site. However, the terrain was too rough.
“This PSA is to notify the residents of Mandaree that there was a saltwater spill and that our water is not affected,” Phelan said.
A representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency met with members of the Three Affiliated Tribes on Wednesday.
“The EPA on-scene coordinator arrived from Bismarck. We briefed him and sent him up to the spill site,” said Kris Roberts with the North Dakota Department of Health.
Roberts said Wednesday the state Department of Health will let the Three Affiliated Tribes take the lead and determine the course of action.
“We are not going to take any further part in this unless tribal authorities want us to. They wish to keep the response local and they’re a sovereign nation,” Roberts said.
Arrow owns and operates crude oil, natural gas and water gathering systems in the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, according to Crestwood. The Arrow system consists of 485 mile of pipeline: 153 miles of crude oil gathering pipeline, 171 miles of gas gathering pipeline and 164 miles of water gathering lines.