A recent oil spill raises a number of questions. Whenever there is an oil spill, regardless of the amount of oil or salt water spilled, there should be a full public explanation as to the specific cause. The clean up usually proceeds as quickly as conditions allow, but damage to the land is always a serious concern from both oil and salt water. The recent spill is from a pipeline that is only 10 years old and we begin to wonder why.
- Keystone Pipeline leak in North Dakota deemed high-impact spill
- Keystone Pipeline leak spills 383,040 gallons of oil in northeastern North Dakota
I implore the state of North Dakota to explain to the public what pipeline construction standards are statutory?
- What is the pipeline gauge design and pumping pressure?
- With regard to the type of welded joints, are all joints inspected, certified, X-rayed for imperfections and documented?
- Are all joints properly coated to match pipe coatings?
- Are there pipeline anchors and allowance for expansion/contraction?
- Are all pipe fitters qualified and welders certified and verified?
The state has an obligation to have a thorough process for monitoring and inspecting all pipeline work. This has to start at the site's origin to its termination.
If the state lacks inspectors due budget issues, then it may be time to implement a system where the fees for constructing a pipeline would include paying for required state inspectors.
Pipelines, if properly constructed, should last for many more than 10 years without any problems. When a spill occurs, the pipeline owner has to martial considerable manpower and equipment, plus soil removal and replacement along with line shutdown. It seems more logical to invest time and quality up front instead of spending money to fix most preventable line or joint failures.
I'm not sure whether North Dakota law currently allows fees to cover full time inspectors. If this is not case, then the Legislature needs to fix this problem so we can build long lasting pipelines and renew public trust. Let's not make up excuses, but let’s find solutions.