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Massive ND oil spill cleanup a 24/7 job

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The cleanup of a pipeline break in a northwest North Dakota farm field is now expected to take many weeks.

Forum Communications reports crews are busy sopping up 20,600 barrels of spilled oil. At first, the spill was estimated to be 750 barrels and Tesoro Logistics, which owns the pipeline, received permission to burn the oil on the surface so they could work safely. Upon further investigation, the company discovered additional oil below the surface.

As of Sunday, crews had recovered about 1,800 barrels of oil, according to Eric Haugstad, director of contingency planning and response for Tesoro. He said that crews have dug 3,000 feet of trenches in the area of the leak and have been using “super sucker” vacuum trucks to pick up solids and liquids from the trenches. Workers have also laid down an absorbent boom. The work is going on round-the-clock and could continue through the winter.

The Wall Street Journal said the spill is the largest to hit North Dakota since the state's oil boom began in 2006. The paper said that corrosion on the pipeline may have created a small hole that allowed oil to seep out. The paper reported that the pipeline is 20 years old and 6 inches in diameter.

Oil production in North Dakota hit a record 874,000 barrels a day in July, according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state is now second to Texas in crude production.

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