Oil spill cleanup

A clean-up crew loads dirt contaminated by an oil spill into trucks in Alexander, N.D., on March 21, a day after a pipeline owned by Enid, Okla.-based Hiland Crude LLC broke, spewing about 34,000 gallons of crude oil. 


BISMARCK, N.D. — One large oil spill in western North Dakota is nearly cleaned up, but work will continue for at least another week on a separate release near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, the state Health Department says.

North Dakota Water Quality Director Dennis Fewless said almost all of the 34,000 gallons of crude that spilled from a broken oil pipeline near Alexander last week has been recovered and cleaned up. More than 225 large dump truck loads of oil-tainted soil were removed from the site by Friday and workers are preparing to backfill the area with new dirt, he said.

The breach occurred March 20 on Enid, Okla.-based 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 no water sources were threatened in that spill.

Meanwhile, cleanup of a 1,400-gallon spill at an oil well swamped by floodwaters near Williston will take more time, Fewless said.

Denver-based Zavanna LLC's well, more than a mile from the Missouri River, was swamped with water that backed up in the ice-choked channel. An unanchored tank that contained about 33 barrels of oil floated at the well site and broke a valve on March 14, authorities said.

Fewless said most of the spill was contained by booms as floodwaters receded, but the oil coated brush, trees and grass in the area.

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"They've got what looks like a bathtub ring they are working to get cleaned up," Fewless said. "It's a very labor-intensive process."

State inspectors are monitoring both cleanups. At the spill near Williston, the Environmental Protection Agency also has placed an inspector on site, agency spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool said.

"We respond when waters of the U.S. are impacted," she said Friday. "Cleanup on the impacted land and vegetation appears to be going well."