Minnesota, North Dakota Oil Pipeline Restarted After Leaks

By Blake Nicholson | May 10, 2013

Enbridge Inc. has resumed shipping crude oil through a pipeline between western North Dakota and northern Minnesota after leaks forced it to be shut down twice within a week.

About 10 gallons leaked between the towns of Knox and York in Benson County, and about 84 gallons — or two barrels — leaked just southwest of Grand Forks, according to Katie Haarsager, an Enbridge spokeswoman in Minot. The leaks were contained to the pipeline area and have been repaired and cleaned up. No environmental damage has been found, she said.

Dave Glatt, director of the state Health Department’s environmental health section, confirmed there was no environmental impact, saying such leaks are considered minor and happen from time to time in North Dakota.

“Typically, in those kinds of quantities, the soil basically absorbs (the oil) fairly quickly and they’re able to scoop up the soil and remove the contamination,” he said.

“We followed up with (Enbridge) and we will be asking more questions — did they find any more places of concern?” Glatt said.

The leaks were discovered by on-site Enbridge crews after regular electronic monitoring of the pipeline that runs between Minot and Clearbrook, Minn., showed areas of concern. Enbridge plans to speed up other planned on-site inspections along the line that was built in 1962, because of the two leaks within such a short time span, according to Haarsager.

“We’re taking a proactive approach to make sure the line is safe and secure,” she said.

The line has the capacity to ship 210,000 barrels of oil — or 8.8 million gallons — from western North Dakota per day to out-of-state refineries. It was shut down last Thursday when the Benson County contamination was discovered, and restarted mid-Saturday. It was shut down again Tuesday morning and restarted later that day.

The brief shutdown of the line shouldn’t disrupt supplies enough to affect gasoline prices, Haarsager said. She did not immediately know the last time the line was shut down due to a leak.

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