Huge ND Wastewater Spill Prompts Calls For Fracking Regs

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Andy Tully via,

Beaver dams have so far prevented about 1 million gallons of fracking wastewater discovered spilled July 8 from a rural North Dakota pipeline from spreading too far. But area residents, environmentalists and even a Republican state legislator all want more reliable measures.

The spill of the toxic saltwater, a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing, came from gas extraction operations at the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and occurred days before it was discovered.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency said the underground pipeline spilled about 24,000 barrels, or 1 million gallon, in North Dakota’s thriving oil and gas region. The water, which can be 10 times saltier than seawater and contains salt and fossil fuel condensates, was being piped away from fuel extraction sites for safe disposal.

The spill has been threatening Bear Den Bay on nearby Lake Sakakawea, which provides water for the reservation occupied by the Arikara, Hidasta and Mandan tribes, though the EPA said there is no evidence that the lake has been contaminated.

In fact, it said, most of the saltwater had pooled near where it had spilled and that beaver dams in the area had kept it from spreading. As a result, the EPA said, the local soil has simply been absorbing the spill.

That’s a bit too fortuitous for Wayde Schafer, a spokesman for the Sierra Club in North Dakota. He said there have been four other spills in the region recently, including three caused by lightning strikes and a fourth attributed to a cow that rubbed against a tank valve.

With its current oil and gas boom, North Dakota has become the second most productive energy state behind Texas. By relying greatly on fracking, though, it also produces millions of barrels of wastewater daily that, like nuclear waste, must be buried underground forever.

In 2013 alone, there were 74 pipeline leaks that spilled 22,000 barrels of saltwater. Yet that same year, the North Dakota Legislature voted 86 to 4 against a bill that would have mandated flow meters and cutoff switches on wastewater-disposal pipelines. Energy companies protested the cost of such measures, and even state regulators argued they wouldn’t detect small leaks.

State Rep. Dick Anderson, a Republican farmer from Willow City, about 140 miles northeast of Lake Sakakawea, wants the legislature to reconsider the bill. He said a revised bill should require energy companies to conduct more frequent examination of the wastewater pipelines, including dogs trained to sniff for spills and even aerial drones that can spot pipeline breaks.

Arrow Pipeline LLC, which owns the pipeline whose spill has been threatening Lake Sakakawea, said the accident wasn’t discovered until employees were reviewing reports on production losses.

Crestwood Midstream Partners LP of Houston, which owns Arrow Pipeline, said the cleanup is likely to last for weeks.

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Say What Again's picture

OK let's hear all the beaver jokes

Manthong's picture

The regulators will be on it faster than you can say cynk hole.

cossack55's picture

Yeah, right.  But what about that stupid ass Hannity and his energy independance and the US will be the worlds biggest oil exporter.  That dickless motherfucker really pisses me off.  

PS I am certainly not one his "great americans" or whatever his silly nonsensical BS tagline is.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

As bad as this is, I'd still have it over nuclear power. Humans are little more than apes and shouldn't be playing with things so dangerous.

john39's picture

Thorium reactors would be fine...  but, since you apparently can't use those for weapons grade plutonium...  it will never happen in the U.S.

SoberOne's picture

"Nice beaver."


"Thanks,  I just had it stuffed."

NYPoke's picture

My wife was 17, when we met.  I had to explain that one to her.


The really funny part, though, was that she had lived in Pittsburg, prior to moving.  Her first job was at ...Busy Beaver Hardware.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

 a fourth attributed to a cow that rubbed against a tank valve.

What is Yellen doing in ND?

Rootin' for Putin's picture

No, that goes straight into the Missouri from there.

Good luck salty beavers

smlbizman's picture

i cant even bring my self to litter.......

Flakmeister's picture

John39, repeating a lie does not make it true...

What you fail to understand was that buying Pu from commercial reactors was a back door subsidy...

Not Too Important's picture

Or 'public' nuclear reactors were primarily designed to produce plutonium as fast as possible, and generating electricity as a secondary by-product allowed them to be sited near populated areas with lots of ignorant people gladly paying for the construction and maintenance, while their DNA and immune systems went to shit.

Certainly the subsidy was not needing liability insurance against any disaster whatsoever, and now the builders are exempt from any legal liabliity thrice over with the new international nuclear treaties pushed by the builders after Fukushima.


FeralSerf's picture

Could we soon have nuclear power WITHOUT toxic waste? Focus Fusion promises cleaner energy solution

Flakmeister's picture


these guys are so smart that they didn't need billions in R&D...


BTW, look up what a fusor is...

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Every year since the early 1970s, we've been about 20 years away from fusion power.

FeralSerf's picture

A lot of money and scientific talent has been wasted on the NIF. It's been a huge distraction.

TheRedScourge's picture

Just because you're happy to think of yourself as an ape doesn't mean the rest of us are.


Amount of people killed by petroleum-related accidents: tens of thousands

Amount of people killed by nuclear accidents: hundreds

Ape: "Wow, hundreds? Let's totally ban nuclear stuff, because its like dangerous or something, and scary. Yeah."

Aaaarghh's picture

are you for fuckin real? go look up chernobyl. No Im not talking immediate deaths; radioactive material is around alot longer than petroleum products after an accident, infinitly more difficult to deal with after an accident and its effects on biological systems are cumulative. Im sure the people of belarus would have chosen a gas powered or coal fired reactor to go up than chernobyl. go google the effects of the accident on those poor people. and

Not Too Important's picture

Don't worry. People aren't that stupid anymore. Only people whose paycheck depends on the nuclear industry repeats that crap.

Infant Mortality Rates around nuclear accidents alone account for millions of additional deaths. Apparently dead children don't count to nuclear industy personnel.

Pool Shark's picture



"The spill of the toxic saltwater, a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing, came from gas extraction operations at the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and occurred days before it was discovered."

Oh, well. Nevermind then; it's not like it was on 'American' soil or anything...

[P.S.: If you live on the west coast, you're already getting 'toxic saltwater' from Japan...]



ebworthen's picture

I feel sorry for the beavers.

Little baby beavers will probably die so some fat-assed yammering ho can drive her Escalade to Nieman Marcus.

GeezerGeek's picture

I envy the beavers. Did they have to get building permits to construct those dams, like humans do? Did they have to file environmental impact statements and contend with the EPA, like humans do? Beavers, like illegal immigrant kids, get to ignore the laws that American citizens are bound by.

rayduh4life's picture

Fracking?  Dangerous salt water?  I thought all that Indian land was "sacred".  WTF.

firstdivision's picture

Save a tree, eat a beaver

I like my beaver oiled before munching

When not fucking her in the beaver, I'm fucking her in the ass.

Real Estate Geek's picture

That was beautiful.  Reminds me of the first time I read Tennyson.

Colonel Klink's picture

Trust me America is long cows with beavers.

DaveyJones's picture

woohoo, we get to tell beaver jokes!

Agent P's picture

Wouldn't be the first time I fracked a salty beaver. 

q99x2's picture

Bring back the snorgtee camel toe.

Latitude25's picture

Poor fuckin beavers

TabakLover's picture

Get greedy.........frack up. Never fails

LetThemEatRand's picture

"He said there have been four other spills in the region recently, including three caused by lightning strikes and a fourth attributed to a cow that rubbed against a tank valve."

Crap, now "cow" has probably been added to the NSA list of potential terrorist words that, if used online, will require anal probing by said NSA.  I guess I'll need to come up with another way to describe Yellen.  I wonder if "lying heffer" is still safe?  

buzzsaw99's picture

that explains why ND doesn't have earthquakes.

buzzsaw99's picture

ward, you were hard on the beaver last night.


buzzsaw99's picture

yeah, i moved that part above. sorry. point being if they dump their waste on top of the ground it is unlikely to cause earthquakes. it will just kill everything on the surface instead.

Not Too Important's picture

Thank God no one uses the water out of the Ogallala Aquifer like all the farmers in the mid-West for anything. It certainly won't seep into the ground . . . Oh, wait. Shit.

Oh regional Indian's picture

The Spice MUST flow.....

pods's picture

Correct on many levels ORI.  Does anyone like seeing oily birds, spills, or waste dumps?  I cannot think of a single person.

Every been at a gas station that has run dry?  Holy fuck it is like people are entitled to gasoline. "Out of gas, but I NEED gas."

Clean it up, fine them, and then move forward.  It wasn't like they were pissing it out into the middle of the river.


Captchured's picture

Industrial accidents suck. That's part of being human, I guess; accidents. This particular one sounds like it dumped a little water on the ground...salted the earth. A million gallons is about enough to fill an olympic size swimming pool to give you a sense of scale. 

Can you imagine how much people would freak out if we started advertising how much pollution farming causes? Think about that volume of polluted water! How about refining of all natural materials into things we use (cotton, metals, oil to plastics, etc)? There are an increasing number of shrill stories about pollution and general disaster related to oil production. The reality is that it is an industry like all others with its own set of accidents.

The other reality is that you, me, and everybody wants more oil and natural gas. Sure, you don't say it out loud, but you want cheaper gasoline, natural gas, clothing, food, roads, sidewalks, electronics, and airline tickets. It is almost like it never occurred to anyone that all that we have is made possible by oil. I'm not saying that other ways aren't possible. They are. We'll just have to get rid of about 6 billion people to make them sustainable at this point.

Before you jump on the populist demonization bandwagon, take a good look around your life. How much is based on oil? If you are guessing around 100% then you made a good guess. You literally can't live without it today. They should teach that in schools. Knowledge often leads people to come up with inspired ideas and advancement. Instead, our schools and culture have taught fear and hysteria. I don't expect good change in my lifetime. But if we change our educational philosophy, we may be able to invent good change for my unborn grandchildren.

Not Too Important's picture

People are realizing how much pollution farming causes. The Roundup is killing the bees, who are responsible for keeping the crop cycles working. How the Roundup is in everything we eat, and killing the good bacteria in our stomachs. Try a Probiotic sometime. You'll see the result immediately, trust me. You'll never want to go without it again.

On the other hand, society won't give up their transportation and gadgets without a fight. I believe there is a clean energy source out there, but it's well hidden by the energy masters.

Grandchildren's future? Fukushima did away with that. There is no fixing fucked.

DaveyJones's picture

no biggie, they only use about eight thousand toxic chemicals to process this energy stupid method

Manthong's picture

I am confused.. is it better to have that secret formula toxic waste on the surface, in the aquifers or deep strata to lubricate fault lines?

813kml's picture

An equal distribution to all three options is ideal if one is looking to create the Perfect Storm of environmental catastrophes.