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Native Sun News: North Dakota tribe contains spill at pipeline

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman, Native Sun News Health and Environment Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Booms and chemical absorbers known as pom-poms have been laid out to prevent a pipeline brine-spill from entering Lake Sakakawea. Photo courtesy MHA Public Information Office

MHA Nation works to keep pipeline break from polluting Missouri River
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News
Health and Environment Editor

MANDAREE, N.D. —The Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara (MHA) Nation, working with federal, state, and corporate officials, has contained a pipeline spill that threatened to contaminate Lake Sakakawea on the Missouri River, Tribal Business Council Chairman Tex Hall announced July 10.

After detection of a pipeline break in the Bear Den area of Mandaree in west-central part of the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation on the morning of July 8, the pipeline was shut down, and steps were taken to contain the discharge that escaped, the tribe said in a news release.

“We have a strict Environmental Code that applies and allows for significant fines of up to $1 million dollars for violations,” Hall said. “Right now we are concerned with water and environmental safety at the site.”

The pipeline is owned by Crestwood Midstream Partners, of Houston, Texas, which had no public comment on the problem that originated in Dunn County, just north of Mandaree and east of Watford City. Hall said that Crestwood is working with tribal officials to contain the spill.

Crestwood is a shipper of Bakken Shale Play oil, gas, brine and water. It is coordinating efforts to ship flaring gas from its sources on the reservation through its nationwide transportation network of pipelines, trucks, trains, collection and loading facilities.

According to Hall, the brine spill was contained in a creek above the Bear Den Bay area leading into Lake Sakakawea. Three beaver dams downstream from the spill site helped contain it. Hall ordered a berm built to further prevent the spread of the brine.

Booms and chemical absorbers known as pom-poms have been laid out at the Mandaree water intake and where the creek enters the Bear Den Bay area to prevent the brine spill from entering Lake Sakakawea.

Mandaree, with a population of about 600, initially shut off its water intake and supply as a precautionary measure, but has since reopened it. The tribal Environmental Department along with the state and EPA are testing the water regularly to determine how safe it is.

The spill estimate is 24,000 barrels, the tribe says. At a Tribal Business Council meeting July 9, Hall briefed tribal members and assured them the tribe was in control of the situation. He said he was pleased with the quick response to the leak by all tribal, state and federal environmental officials.

(Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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