MANDAREE, N.D. (AP) — The path of brine spilled from an underground North Dakota pipeline extends nearly 2 miles down a steep ravine, but dead vegetation is limited to about 200 yards from the source of the spill, a company official said Thursday.
Miranda Jones, vice president of environmental safety and regulatory at Crestwood Midstream Partners Inc., said the cause of the spill appears to involve a separation of the pipe that carries saltwater, a byproduct of oil and natural gas production. Crestwood subsidiary Arrow Pipeline LLC owns the pipeline.
Jones said the path of the brine is 8,240 feet long, and the company has estimated around 1 million gallons spilled. Officials have said it damaged trees, brush and grasses in the area.
Crews are carrying equipment down the steep badlands by hand because of the rough topography.
Claryca Mandan, natural resources administrator for Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes' natural resources department, said the area is "one of the worst places it could have happened" because the pipeline sits atop a bluff, and the saltwater ran down the rugged terrain.
The Environmental Protection Agency was assessing the site Thursday to ensure none of the brine affected the lake an American Indian reservation uses for drinking water.
In the first public statement in the two days since the spill was detected, the agency said it had no confirmed reports that the saltwater had reached Bear Den Bay. It leads to Lake Sakakawea, which provides water for the Fort Berthold reservation in the heart of western North Dakota's booming oil patch.
EPA said most of the spill was pooled on the ground, soaked into the soil and held behind beaver dams.
Cleanup at the reservation site continued Thursday and was expected to last for weeks, Jones said.