North Dakota: The Spills Keep Coming (Video)

NWF’s Tim Warman made the point in a guest column in this week’s Newsweek Magazine, the BP spill is not an isolated incident.

Last week a mix of crude and water spilled at an oil well near Killdeer, N.D., dumped more than 2,400 barrels of crude and water before the leak was stopped.  It’s just the latest.

The BP disaster has reminded the broader public that fossil fuel extraction, refining and transportation is an inherently risky business, and the problem is exacerbated by an industry that too often puts profit motive ahead of safety.

North Dakota’s stunningly all to common, and avoidable. A report we published looking back over the last decade found on average there’s an incident about once every 34 hours and someone dies about once every three weeks. We found that from 2000 to 2009, there were 2,554 significant pipeline accidents, causing 161 fatalities and 576 injuries. (Here’s a snapshot of a map from the report laying out incidents from the last decade). Gas-Oil-Incidents-SMALL

The incidents seem to be happening so fast, our five week old report already starting to look dated.

33,000 Gallons In Utah. Utahans got a reminder themselves recently when, as the nation focused its attention on clumsy efforts to plug the gulf gusher, a major pipeline disaster 1,300 miles to the north dumped more than 33,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek near the University of Utah campus. Investigators later found a hole in the top of the pipeline, which transports crude from Colorado to feed Salt Lake City’s oil and gas refineries.

Industry’s Spill and Evade Strategy. This last decade makes one thing clear – the industry has evaded prevention in favor of a strategy to lobby and litigate its way out of responsibility after the fact. That’s a strategy that runs counter to the public’s interest. Because our nation is addicted to oil and gas, there is no quick fix, but the no-brainer should be to remove the legal liability cap that drives polluters to focus on the short term rather than safety and prevention.

NWF continues to blow the whistle on the industry and pushing Congress to hold polluters accountable. Warman recently did a nationwide satellite media tour to discuss the report with TV stations.