Skip to main content

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.

Next Up

Dalvin Cook

Report: Dalvin Cook has dislocated shoulder, will undergo MRI

The Vikings running back was carted off the field in Sunday's loss to the 49ers.

Kirk Cousins

Watch: Kirk Cousins lines up under guard on critical 4th down play

Kirk Cousins went "Full Kirk" at the worst possible time.

Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook injured, Vikings drop crucial game against 49ers

The Vikings couldn't stop the Niners' rushing attack in a 34-26 loss.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man airlifted to a hospital after police shooting in Forest Lake

Police allege that the man presented a threat to officers.

Minnesota Wild

Wild's two third-period goals take down the Lightning

Ryan Hartman's go-ahead goal defeated the two-time defending champions.

Byron Buxton

Reports: Twins reach extension with Byron Buxton

The long-term deal locks in one of the Twins' franchise players.

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.