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Inspectors find two pipelines leaked oil, gas into Sakakawea tributary last week

BISMARCK – Last week’s spill of petroleum products into a tributary of Lake Sakakawea has been traced to two leaking pipelines located within about 10 feet of each other, a North Dakota Department of Health official said Tuesday.

Karl Rockeman, director of the Division of Water Quality, said inspectors confirmed that crude oil and natural gas condensate spilled into Sand Creek in McKenzie County.

The health department hasn’t changed its initial estimate that 10 barrels, or 420 gallons, spilled at the site and 10 to 20 gallons reached Sand Creek, Rockeman said.

Sand Creek empties into Lake Sakakawea. The spilled oil and gas was contained about 13 miles from the lake using booms and other absorbent materials on a roughly 200-foot-long section of the creek.

“There’s been no indication that any has made it beyond our containments,” Rockeman said.

Officials are still trying to determine who owns the abandoned oil collection pipeline that leaked about 500 to 700 feet from the creek, he said. Hess Corp. owns the natural gas pipeline that leaked, Rockeman said.

The cause of the leaks is unknown, he said. There was no excavation work happening in that area at the time, he said.

An employee of Tesoro, which also has pipelines in the area, first reported the spill Thursday about 3.5 miles south of Charlson in northern McKenzie County, he said.

Both Hess and Tesoro are assisting with cleanup. Rockeman said he didn’t have an estimate of how long it will take.

Inspectors found no damage to vegetation or aquatic life, he said.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.