BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota has several pipelines already in place, transporting oil and natural gas. Are they causing any problems?
Regulators and advocates are at odds over the thousands of miles of pipeline in the state and whether or not they are safe and well maintained.
There are more than 7,000 miles of pipeline carrying crude oil and natural gas throughout the state. That number comes from the North Dakota Public Service Commission, who approves and regulates the lines, many of which are already running under sources of drinking water like the Missouri River.
The PSC is using the best techniques possible to keep our water safe.
“The pipe itself is heavier duty when crossing a water body. There are block valves on both sides of the water crossing to allow for shut down of the pipeline,” says Julie Fedorchak, ND Public Service Commissioner.
Fedorchak says pipelines are the safest and cleanest option available.
But people not in favor of pipelines say there should be more choices, as well.
“We’re often asked if you’re not for pipelines, then you’re obviously for more train traffic. More train traffic, more trucks. I think that we’re limiting our options,” says Nicole Donaghy, Field Organizer, Dakota Resource Council.
And the Dakota Resource Council says many pipelines in operation are owned by offenders of repeat spills. They say the company which was responsible for the Bear Den Bay Spill had a record of spills.
“That same company Crestwood Arrow had four previous spills that year. So we have repeat offenses, we have repeat offenders here in North Dakota that are running these pipelines,” says Donaghy.
The commission says it’s impossible to build anything that is 100% percent safe
“You can’t ensure that there’s never going to be a leak. I mean, that’s an impossible task, just like you can’t ensure that a train is never going to come off the tracks or that a truck is never going to crash carrying any of these kinds of products that we use every day,” says Fedorchak.
But Fedorchak says all pipelines go through incredible scrutiny and are as safe as possible.
Fedorchak reiterated that the Dakota Access Pipeline will not come into physical contact with the Missouri River, as it will be deep beneath the river bottom, sometimes as deep as 90 feet.