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Corrective action order issued in ND oil pipeline spill

BELFIELD, N.D. -- A federal agency has ordered Belle Fourche Pipeline to improve leak detection, remediate any pipeline in unstable land areas and take other steps to protect the environment following an oil spill in a Little Missouri River tribu...

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An oil pipeline spill in Ash Coulee Creek is pictured Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, northwest of Belfield, N.D. The Belle Fourche Pipeline spilled an estimated 176,400 gallons of oil. Photo courtesy of North Dakota Department of Health

BELFIELD, N.D. - A federal agency has ordered Belle Fourche Pipeline to improve leak detection, remediate any pipeline in unstable land areas and take other steps to protect the environment following an oil spill in a Little Missouri River tributary.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a corrective action order to Belle Fourche, part of True Companies of Wyoming, stemming from its investigation into the spill discovered Dec. 5 by a landowner northwest of Belfield.

The company has estimated the spill released about 4,200 barrels, or 176,400 gallons, of oil. The spill contaminated about 4½ miles of Ash Coulee Creek. The cause of the spill is still under investigation. The pipeline break occurred on a hillside that is slumping, which is part of the investigation.

The proposed corrective action order requires Belle Fourche to take several steps prior to restarting the pipeline, including:

- Conduct daily aerial patrols of the affected segment of pipeline for the next 14 days, including the use of an infrared camera to locate any areas of potential oil leaks.

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- Complete testing and analysis of the failed section of pipe within 90 days and submit a root cause failure analysis within 120 days.

- Conduct a risk assessment of steep slopes along the 58-mile pipeline route to determine if slope movement could damage the pipeline.

- Install leak detection equipment within six months, with a high priority placed on areas associated with the Little Missouri River and other water crossings more than 100 feet wide.

- Review the effectiveness of the company's emergency response as related to the failure.

Failure to comply with the order could result in civil penalties.

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