The largest oil spill in North Dakota history recently occurred near Tioga, where more than 20,000 barrels of oil inundated 7.3 acres of farmland. The spill was determined to have resulted from a faulty pipeline and poor safety measures taken by the company.
Transportation of oil through pipelines may be the safest method of delivering oil, if compared to trucks or rail, but this doesn't mean they are safe enough. Spills have occurred throughout the United States in the past three years at an alarming rate. More than 300 oil spills have occurred in North Dakota over the last three years. Three hundred. These were only recently fully disclosed to the public. All of this is extremely intolerable.
The Mayflower, Ark., spill, which occurred in a suburban neighborhood, was a wake-up this April for many people nationwide, and the Kalamazoo River spill in Marshall, Mich., highlighted the dangers of pipelines delivering diluted bitumen or tar sands if such oil is spilled into waterways.
Enbridge Corp. recently proposed a pipeline, named the Sandpiper, to move oil from the heart of the Bakken to the east, eventually crossing beneath the Red River near Grand Forks.
Enbridge is the same company responsible for a spill just west of Grand Forks in 2012 and is also responsible for the devastating impacts of the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010, which has yet to be fully cleaned up. This should be eye-opening for the residents of Grand Forks and people of the surrounding area. If the Sandpiper pipeline is permitted and a spill occurs at some point during its lifetime, the impact to Grand Forks could be disastrous.
One thing is certain: Pipelines eventually leak; it's just a matter of time. The public and decision-makers need to think long and hard about where pipelines are routed and the possible impacts of a pipeline spill before they permit new pipelines like the Sandpiper. What is certain: Grand Forks cannot afford to have what happened near Tioga happen to the Red River.