Oil spill cleanup not up to standardsA hearing will likely be held to address $588,371 in fines assessed to Halek Operating ND, LLC for alleged improper cleanup of an oil leak near Dickinson in April, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission. “Our records show that 10 percent or less was actually cleaned up. I don’t know how much has biodegraded at this point, but cleanup operation didn’t pick up very much of it,” said Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms.
By: By Ashley Martin , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
A hearing will likely be held to address $588,371 in fines assessed to Halek Operating ND, LLC for alleged improper cleanup of an oil leak near Dickinson in April, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission.
“Our records show that 10 percent or less was actually cleaned up. I don’t know how much has biodegraded at this point, but cleanup operation didn’t pick up very much of it,” said Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms.
Shane Herman, president of Enviro Shield Products, Inc., which Halek hired to clean up the spill said the site is up to state standards
“On the contaminated grounds, there was less than 200 parts per million of hydrocarbons, which in the state and federal levels is passable in North Dakota,” Herman said.
Helms does not believe enough oil was removed to satisfy state standards.
The spill occurred when snowmelt caused a Halek drilling pit to overflow about 6 miles southwest of Dickinson, officials said.
About 150 barrels of crude oil and drilling mud flowed out of the pit, into a drainage area and spread about three-fourths of a mile away from the pit, Helms said.
“In this case, the containment system that they deployed was inadequate because it allowed pit fluids to continue flowing down that drainage towards Patterson Lake,” Helms said. “And the collection of spilled fluids was inadequate as was the amount of time it took them to respond and the lack of follow up.”
He does not believe Patterson Lake was contaminated, but said heavy rains could cause the oil that allegedly hasn’t been cleaned to flow into the lake.
“At that point it can kill fish, it can contaminate public water supplies and it becomes a significant incident that EPA would certainly get involved in,” he said.
However, North Dakota Department of Health Environmental Geologist Kris Roberts, who inspected the spill site Thursday, doesn’t believe that’s a concern anymore.
“This doesn’t worry me at all,” Roberts said of the crusty brown material left in the path of the spill. “It’s not anything that’s got a lot of oil content in it. This is just residuals left behind.”
Herman said Enviro Shield could have cleaned up more, but stopped because Halek did not pay for their service.
“We went over and above and beyond the call of duty on that situation and we haven’t received a dime of payment on any of it,” Herman said.
Enviro Shield continued soaking up oil even when it was evident Halek wasn’t going to pay, Herman said.
“I only went down there and did the final cleanup because, you know, this is my home state,” he said. “This is where I was born and raised and this is where I do business and I want to protect the state of North Dakota.”
Helms said cleanup is Halek’s responsibility and Enviro Shield won’t be fined if it was not done properly.
“We were under the impression that he (Herman) did what the operator asked him to do, but based on our inspection and the health department’s inspection, it’s not even close at this point,” Helms said.
Roberts was happy to see some vegetation growing through the crust of oil and algae, but he and Herman say more can be done to aid the recovery.
“They could easily help it out by tilling it up and seeding it,” Roberts said.
Helms said his main priority is cleaning up what’s left, but is unsure who will finish cleaning or when it will be done.
Halek made a settlement proposal after the complaint, he added. Helms would not say how much they offered, but said it was “substantially less” than the fines assessed.
“Depending on when they clean it up … there could be additional fines for the time that it wasn’t cleaned up and charges for the expenses incurred by us and by the health department,” Helms said.
A message left for a Halek representative was not returned.
Ashley Martin is a reporter at the Dickinson Press,
which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.