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The crude oil spill that occurred in western North Dakota in December is now estimated to be three times larger than originally estimated, according to True Companies, the owner of the pipeline.
The new estimate makes the spill the largest in the state to affect water resources in over a decade, a new article by Reuters reports.
Spokesperson Wendy Owen clarified on Friday that the Belle Fourche crude pipeline spilled 12,615 barrels of oil, but an earlier evaluation of the leak measured spillage at 4,200 barrels.
Four-fifths of the spill has been cleaned up so far, Owen added over the phone, but not before running down a hill and into Ash Coulee Creek.
Had oil reached into the depths of the creek, it would have entered the Little Missouri River, and then the bigger Missouri River – which serves as a major source of drinking water for North Dakota and many other states.
Overall, the spill is the second-largest in over 15 years, right behind Tesoro Logistics’ 2013 spill that released 20,600 barrels into the facility’s surroundings.
Monitoring equipment had not originally detected the leak—which occurred just 150 miles away from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe—due to its irregular flow, True Companies has said in the past. The Belle Fourche line remains closed as repairs continue.
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The Native American rights and environmental protestors argued that building the DAPL would endanger water resources for the nearby reservation and towns that lived further downstream. Standing Rock also claims that the project is in violation of treaty rights.
The $3.8-billion DAPL pipeline, which was last year suspended by the Obama administration but greenlighted again by Donald Trump, will carry crude from the North Dakota Bakken shale play to Illinois.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…