North Dakota launching website to track oil spills and leaks

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The North Dakota Health Department announced plans to launch a website to let citizens monitor reported oil spills and other hazardous leaks, both recent incidents and those dating back as far as 1975.

The Associated Press reports the site, which should go live later this week, comes in response to a delay in reporting a massive pipeline rupture that left some 20,000 barrels of crude oozing in a wheat field in the northwestern part of the state in September. State regulators were aware of the spill but failed to notify the public until The Associated Press asked about it.

Although companies must notify the state of spills, regulators don't have to release that information to the public. The Associated Press noted that is not unusual in oil-producing states.

Citizen groups say the development is overdue. "It's a long time coming and a step in the right direction and something we've been asking for," said Don Morrison, executive director of the 700-member Dakota Resource Council, made up of environmental-minded landowners.

Cleanup work continues at the site of the September spill near Tioga, N. D. with estimates that it will take $4 million and two years to finish the job.

Forum Communications reported in November that the Williston Basin produced more than 1 million barrels of oil per day in September in another record month of North Dakota oil production. The story also said tht Bakken oil production in North Dakota and Montana is projected to top 1 million barrels of oil per day in December.

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