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Crude Oil Spills Result in $12.5M Settlement for Montana and North Dakota Pipelines

A $12.5 million civil penalty relating to crude oil spills in North Dakota and Montana has been agreed upon by two pipeline operators.

The settlement in a federal court complaint from 2022 was disclosed by the US Environmental Protection Agency on Monday.

According to the EPA, the $12.5 million will be paid by Belle Fourche Pipeline Company and Bridger Pipeline LLC to settle the claims brought under the Clean Water Act and the Pipeline Safety Regulations. Oil pipelines are owned and run by the associated businesses in Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana.

A pipe break on the Bridger’s Poplar Pipeline near Glendive, Montana, in 2015 caused the release of more than 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of crude oil into the Yellowstone River. Bridger cleared the property in 2021 and paid $2 million to settle legal disputes with federal and Montana authorities.

Bridger had already received a $1 million punishment from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in the matter.

An unnamed tributary, Ash Coulee Creek, and the Little Missouri River were affected by the release of nearly 600,000 gallons (or 2.3 million liters) of oil from Belle Fourche’s Bicentennial Pipeline in 2016, which ruptured owing to a landslide in Billings County, North Dakota.

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Pipeline Owners Upgrade Safety Measures

A $12.5 million civil penalty relating to crude oil spills in North Dakota and Montana has been agreed upon by two pipeline operators.

According to the EPA, Belle Fourche’s cleanup is still proceeding under the direction of North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The agreement made public on Monday leaves room for the government to file more legal claims because it does not fully address all of the Ash Coulee spill’s problems. The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality will receive approximately $4.6 million of the $12.5 million civil penalty.

According to court records filed on Monday, Belle Fourche will also be responsible for the state’s prior response expenditures, which come to over $98,000. In addition to paying the civil penalty, the operators must also carry out specific compliance procedures.

The True Companies, based in Wyoming, are the owners of Belle Fourche and Bridger.

According to Bill Salvin, a spokesman for Bridger, the operators have finished all remedial work that has been mandated by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality “to date” and “will work closely” with the agency if more work is needed. Salvin said further soil testing has to be done.

He claimed that the pipeline owners have upgraded their system to increase safety, adding a new control center to their Casper, Wyoming, headquarters and a new artificial intelligence-powered leak detection system.

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Source: MSN

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