North Dakota, which ranks second in the US in terms of oil production, endured almost 300 oil spills in under two years and yet managed to avoid reporting a single one of them to the public, according to a new report.
Documents viewed by the Associated Press indicate that, since January 2012, as many as 750 “oil field incidents” were recorded in North Dakota. The distinction between spills and incidents was not immediately clear but presumably was related to the magnitude of the accident.
North Dakota, which borders Canada and has an estimated population of under 700,000 people, is like many other states heavily involved in oil production in that it is not required by law to inform the public about oil spills. Yet with the potentially devastating consequences a spill could have in a state that relies on farming and water resources, citizens have begun lobbying for greater access to information.
Dennis Fewless, director of water quality for the state Health Department, told the AP lawmakers and regulators in North Dakota are also reconsidering the current state of affairs after a wheat farmer stumbled across a major oil spill last month. That incident was not made public knowledge until 11 days later, when reporters asked. Questions have also been raised as to whether the relationship between the pipeline’s operator, Tesoro Logistics, with regulators is too close for comfort.