Documentary: North Dakota oil fields 'the most dangerous place to work'


The new riches generated by the oil pumped out of the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota have come at a high price in human lives.

That's the contention of a new interactive documentary called "Oil to Die For" which premieres May 18, airing at 9:30 pm on the PBS stations of Prairie Public Broadcasting in North Dakota.

Todd Melby, reporter and producer of the documentary, said more than 50 workers have died in the oil fields since 2008. Typically, their deaths were noted in local newspapers, with short stories listing a name, age, and cause of death.

MPR News reports Melby read the stories while in North Dakota producing his previous documentary and decided to investigate further.

Melby said North Dakota has become the most dangerous place to work in the country.

"The fatality rates are nearly seven times as high as fields in the rest of America," said Melby.

Todd Melby's website identifies him as a reporter, radio producer and "digital innovator" and says he is the lead producer of "Black Gold Boom," a public media project documenting North Dakota's oil boom.

"Oil to Die For" is interactive, which allows viewers to watch interviews, access court documents and move through the story at their own speed.

"There are men who are dying at alarming rates in North Dakota and that deserves to be paid attention to," said Melby.

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