HOUSTON Dec 13 Roughly a third of the more than
3,000 barrels of oil that spilled into a North Dakota creek
following a pipeline leak last week has been recovered, a local
official said on Tuesday.
An estimated 4,200 barrels of oil leaked from the Belle
Fourche Pipeline on a hill just above the Ash Coulee Creek, and
an estimated 3,100 barrels made it into the water, said Bill
Seuss, a program manager for the North Dakota Department of
The leak was first reported to regulators on Dec. 5,
according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
The pipeline leak occurred about 150 miles from where the
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other environmental groups have
been protesting Energy Transfer's Dakota Access pipeline
in recent months. The incident may serve as something of a
rallying cry for groups opposing the pipeline, which have said a
spill could enter important watersheds and contaminate water.
The point of release into the Ash Coulee Creek is about 18
miles from where it feeds into the Little Missouri River, which
then feeds the Missouri, a major drinking water source, Seuss
Frigid temperatures have made cleanup conditions difficult,
but has also slowed the movement of oil down the creek because
the water has frozen, he added. PHMSA on Tuesday said an
investigation into the incident was ongoing.
The cause of the leak is not yet known, Wendy Owen,
spokeswoman for Casper, Wyoming-based True Companies, the
pipeline's owner, said by phone on Tuesday.
The 24,000 barrel per day, six-inch pipeline runs
intermittently, and at maximum has capacity to flow at 1,000
barrels per hour, Owen said.
Monitoring equipment on the line did not detect the leak,
possibly because of intermittent flow, she added.
Two cows were reported dead near the site of the spill, but
whether the leak caused their death was unclear, Seuss noted.
Belle Fourche Pipeline Company has reported 12 pipeline
leaks since 2010.
In 2011, the company reported two major leaks, one that
spilled more than 1,900 barrels of refined products Campbell
County, Wyoming, and another that leaked 1,000 barrels of crude
in McKenzie County, North Dakota, according to PHMSA data.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton, editing by G Crosse)