Authorities look into brine spill on North Dakota reservation

Lisa DeVille has been pressing her tribe to confirm that water on the reservation is safe after a spill of 1 million gallons of brine last year. Photo by Talli Nauman / Native Sun News

Federal authorities are investigating the spill of 1 million gallons of brine on the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota.

The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to determine whether Crestwood Midstream Services Inc. violated the Clean Water Act last July, The Grand Forks Herald reported. And the U.S. Attorney's Office has hit the company with a grand jury subpoena, the paper said, citing a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Just last week, another Crestwood pipeline spilled at least 220,000 gallons of brine. And last year, two more company pipelines spilled about 168,000 gallons.

"I'll just come out and admit it: We can't handle it right now," Edmund Baker, the tribe's environmental director, told Al Jazeera of the boom in energy production. "We are not equipped. We are not staffed."

The brine is a salty byproduct of energy development. It results from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that's common on the reservation.

Get the Story:
EPA involved in 1 million gallon brine leak investigation (The Grand Forks Herald 5/19)
Tribal environmental director: 'We are not equipped' for N.D. oil boom (Al Jazeera 5/16)
Farmers Fight a New Kind of Pipeline Spill--Salty Wastewater (The Wall Street Journal 5/16)
Official: 'Significant' Brine Spill Enters North Dakota Lake (AP 5/6)

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