ALEXANDER, N.D. (AP) — Cleanup workers have contained about 34,000 gallons of crude that spewed from a broken oil pipeline in northwestern North Dakota, state health officials said Friday.
North Dakota Water Quality Director Dennis Fewless said the breach occurred Thursday morning on Hiland Crude LLC's pipeline about 6 miles northeast of Alexander. A gasket on the above-ground pipeline appears to have failed near a compressor station, spewing about 800 barrels of crude, Fewless said. A barrel holds 42 gallons.
Fewless said about half the oil migrated off the site but has been contained and no water sources are threatened. Hiland gave a lower estimate than state inspectors did for how much oil escaped the site, saying in a statement that "approximately 100 barrels of crude left the location, with an undetermined amount contained on location."
The Enid, Okla.-based company said the environmental impact "is limited to contaminated soil, which is being removed from the site."
On Friday afternoon, the smell of oil hung in the air as bulldozers loaded contaminated dirt into waiting trucks. The black-stained dirt was being taken to a nearby landfill, said Brady Espe, a health department inspector who was monitoring cleanup efforts at the site.
The broken pipeline sent a mist of oil over a Hiland oil and gas facility, and pooled along the sides of a nearby dirt road, Espe said.
Fewless said the cleanup likely will continue for a few days.
The spill occurred about 5 a.m. Thursday and Hiland notified North Dakota regulators about six hours later, Fewless said. State health inspectors have been on the scene since Thursday.
Hiland's statement said its workers "immediately began emergency response activities" after detecting the spill. It said specialized cleanup contractors were at the site before 6:30 a.m. Thursday, and the flow of crude oil was "substantially controlled" at that time.
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