One of the largest oil spills in North Dakota history went largely unreported until Thursday, when state officials informed the public of Tesoro Corporation’s pipeline break just north of Tioga.
A farmer reported finding crude bubbling out of the ground while he was harvesting his wheat crop on September 29, but the spill was not made public for 12 more days. Officials estimate the pipeline leaked 20,600 barrels of oil.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple told reporters the state is now investigating its protocol for reporting spills.
“There are many questions to be answered on how it occurred and how it was detected and if there was anything that could have been done that could have made a difference,” Dalrymple said Thursday.
Tesoro workers were able to contain the spill, but they estimate the clean-up will cost $4 million. Local farmers say the crude oil will make the land unusable for several years.
The North Dakota spill is one in a series of major pipeline leaks recently in North America that have rallied environmentalists to strongly oppose the extension of TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline.