A farmer in North Dakota noticed something funny going on in his wheat field in late September. At first, he could only smell what he suspected was crude oil, but within a few days it began gushing up out of the ground, spreading across over 7 acres of his property. The pipeline, owned by Tesoro Corp, is estimated to have spilled 20,600 barrels over the course of a few short days. The spill is among the largest ever recorded in the state.
Image © Ian Kirk
Fortunately enough, the damage seems to be mostly confined to the property itself. The flow of oil has been shut down, and apparently no water sources have been contaminated. There is a natural layer of clay 40 feet thick beneath the property, which is keeping the oil above ground, and the nearest home is about half a mile away, so the spill is unlikely to affect nearby farms.
The farmer, Steve Jensen, had already harvested most of his wheat prior to finding the spill, but just in case, he’s having the harvested product tested for contamination at a local grain elevator. Tesoro is estimating that cleanup will cost around $4 million, but hasn’t yet been able to determine how long it will take.
Lead image © theaucitron