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Officials investigate pipeline leak near Sand Creek

CHARLSON — About 10 to 20 gallons of a petroleum product have spilled into Sand Creek, a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, the North Dakota Department of Health said Friday.

The product that spilled has not been positively identified, but appears to be associated with a pipeline leak and may involve fluid associated with natural gas or crude oil, the health department said.

“It’s a pretty minor spill, based on the volume,” said Karl Rockeman, director of the Division of Water Quality. “It has been contained on site.”

Health officials were notified Thursday about the presence of a petroleum product about 3.5 miles south of Charlson in northern McKenzie County. Multiple pipelines cross the area, and crews are working to determine the exact source of the spill. The company responsible for the spill has not been determined.

State health inspectors were on the scene Thursday and Friday, along with emergency response personnel and representatives from Hess Corp. and Tesoro, which have crude oil and natural gas pipelines in the area, Rockeman said.

“We’re not sure, at this point, how long it’s been leaking,” Rockeman said.

Initial estimates indicate that 10 barrels, or 420 gallons, spilled at the site, with 10 to 20 gallons reaching Sand Creek, the health department said. Sand Creek eventually drains into Lake Sakakawea, and the fluid is about 13 miles from the lake.

Containment booms and absorbent materials are in place on Sand Creek below the site as a precaution to keep the petroleum away from the lake.

There’s no indication that the petroleum spill has moved beyond the area where it was discovered, Rockeman said.

Crews are on site excavating around the suspected area of the pipeline leak to determine the source and make the repairs, Rockeman said.