Oil company to plead guilty in bird deathBISMARCK — A subsidiary of a Bismarck-based company has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $1,500 fine for killing a bird during drilling operations in western North Dakota.
By: James MacPherson, The Dickinson Press
BISMARCK — A subsidiary of a Bismarck-based company has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $1,500 fine for killing a bird during drilling operations in western North Dakota.
Fidelity Exploration & Production Co., of Denver, was charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the death of a solitary sandpiper found in one of the company’s waste pits on May 6. Under a plea agreement filed in federal court Wednesday, Fidelity will pay the fine to the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Companies in North Dakota are required to cover the so-called reserve pits with netting if they are open for more than 90 days after drilling operations. The waste pits, which can contain oil, diesel, drilling muds and chemicals, are about the size of a large swimming pool, and birds sometimes mistake them for a good place to land.
Court records show Fidelity’s waste pit remained un-netted for more than 90 days after the well was drilled.
Fidelity is a unit of MDU Resources Group Inc. The Bismarck-based energy, mining and construction company had been North Dakota’s only Fortune 500 company before dropping off the magazine’s list this year.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said he could not comment on plea deal because it still must be approved by a federal judge.
MDU spokesman Rick Matteson said the company has accepted responsibility and would work to improve its drilling practices.
“Fidelity is committed to being in full compliance with all the rules and regulations and we take the Migratory Bird Act very seriously,” Matteson said. “We accept responsibility whenever we fall short.”