North Dakota defends oil spill response

Oct. 14, 2013 at 6:57 AM

BISMARCK, N.D., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- North Dakota regulators said it was business as usual with delays in reporting the state's first major oil spill because public health wasn't threatened.

More than 20,000 barrels of oil spilled in a rural field in North Dakota in late September. Tesoro Logistics of Texas, working in North Dakota, reported last week there were no injuries associated with the spill. It said no water was contaminated and the surrounding environment should be shielded from any major damage.

Dennis Fewless, director of the North Dakota Department of Health Water Quality Division, defended the delay in notifying the public. Twelve days lapsed between the incident and public notification.

"If we would have had surface water or ground water threatened or if the public was in harm, we would certainly have a news release," he was quoted as saying Saturday by the Williston Herald.

The Dakota Resource Council, based in Bismarck, said the delay raised questions about the state government's commitment to safe resource development.

"At the very least, this latest spill calls for an open and honest public discussion of how our state is handling oil development," the group said last week. "The lack of open, balanced government needs to change."

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