Contamination levels dropping from ND saltwater spill

Contamination levels have started to drop along waterways affected by a massive saltwater spill in western North Dakota's oil patch, but they remain high near the site of the pipeline breach, government regulators and company officials said Tuesday.

The leak detected last month spilled nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater brine from a four-inch pipeline north of Williston. The wastewater — a byproduct of intensive oil drilling in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana — primarily contaminated Blacktail Creek, but also flowed into the Little Muddy River and the Missouri River.

Wells to close to protect groundwater, says California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California has proposed closing by October up to 140 oil-field wells that state regulators had allowed to inject into federally protected drinking water aquifers, state officials said.

The deadline is part of a broad plan the state sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week for bringing state regulation of oil and gas operations back into compliance with federal safe-drinking water requirements. State authorities made the plan public Monday.

California pledges changes in protecting underground water

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California is proposing broad changes in the way it protects underground water sources from oil and gas operations, after finding 2,500 instances in which the state authorized oil and gas operations in protected water aquifers.

State oil and gas regulators on Monday released a plan they sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week for bringing the state back into compliance with federal safe-drinking water requirements.


Galapagos emergency after ship grounding


Concerned about the fate of the unique flora and fauna on the Galapagos Islands in the event of a spill, Ecuador officials have declared a state of emergency after a cargo ship carrying 13,000 gallons of fuel ran aground there last week, Telesur reports.

California authorizes oilfield dumping into drinking water

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Regulators in California, the country's third-largest oil-producing state, have authorized oil companies to inject production fluids and waste into what are now federally protected aquifers more than 2,500 times, risking contamination of underground water supplies that could be used for drinking water or irrigation, state records show.

While some of the permits go back decades, an Associated Press analysis found that nearly half of those injection wells — 46 percent — were permitted or began injection in the last four years under Gov. Jerry Brown, who has pushed state oil and gas regulators to speed up the permitting process. And it happened despite warnings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2011 that state regulators were failing to do enough to shield groundwater reserves from the threat of oilfield pollution.


BP urges judges to remove head of oil spill settlement fund

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP was back in court Tuesday, trying to oust the man responsible for doling out billions of dollars in settlement money to businesses claiming they were hampered by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

It's the oil giant's latest legal effort to limit its losses from the nation's worst offshore oil spill. BP says the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, failed to disclose that he worked on previous oil spill litigation for the state of Louisiana when he was hired to oversee settlement payouts.


Trial ends over how much BP should pay for Gulf oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The latest phase of a trial to determine how much BP should pay in Clean Water Act penalties for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill — which could reach $13.7 billion — ended Monday, but a decision from the judge is not expected for months.

The trial closed after two weeks of testimony and arguments by lawyers for the Justice Department, which wants a high penalty, and BP, which wants a lower figure. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a minority owner of the ill-fated well, was also part of the proceeding and is fighting the government's push for more than $1 billion in penalties.


Anadarko argues against $1B penalty in 2010 Gulf oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Lawyers for Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a minority partner with BP in the ill-fated Macondo offshore well, began making their case in court Monday that Anadarko should not face steep federal Clean Water Act penalties for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The government has suggested a penalty of more $1 billion for Anadarko, and a penalty of up to $13.7 billion for BP. The penalty trial is entering its third week.


Big Montana oil spill is latest involving pipeline company

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming company whose pipeline leaked 30,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana and its sister company have had multiple pipeline spills and federal fines levied against them in the last decade, according to government records.

Bridger Pipeline LLC, the operator of the Poplar Pipeline that broke recently near Glendive, Montana, recorded nine pipeline incidents between 2006 and 2014, according to the pipeline administration. Combined, they leaked nearly 11,000 gallons of crude.


Montana oil spill cleanup to slow as river gets dangerous

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The struggle to recover 30,000 gallons of oil from a pipeline spill into Montana's Yellowstone River is expected to grind to a near-halt in coming days as warmer weather makes ice on the river increasingly dangerous, state regulators and a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Because of brittle ice, crews trying to recover oil trapped beneath the Yellowstone could be pulled off the river as early as Thursday, said Bonnie Lovelace with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.


Subscribe to Pollution