Three years and three months later, a massive oil spill in North Dakota still isn't fully cleaned up. The company responsible hasn't even set a date for completion. Though crews have been working around the clock to deal with the Tesoro Corp. pipeline break, which happened in a wheat field in September 2013, less than a third of the 840,000 gallons that spilled has been recovered. While the nearest home was a half-mile away and the state said no water sources were contaminated and no wildlife hurt, one of the largest onshore oil spills recorded in the US serves for some as a cautionary example, especially given a recent pipeline break in Belfield, about 150 miles south, and ongoing debates over the four-state Dakota Access pipeline.
Texas-based company Tesoro and federal regulators have said a lightning strike may have caused the 2013 rupture in the pipeline, which runs from Tioga to a rail facility outside of Columbus, near the Canadian border. The cleanup has cost Tesoro more than $49 million to date and is expected to top $60 million, according to recent filings to the state. Crews have had to dig as deep as 50 feet to remove hundreds of thousands of tons of oil-tainted soil, North Dakota Health Department environmental scientist Bill Suess says. The company has now switched to special equipment that cooks hydrocarbons from crude-soaked soil in a process called thermal desorption before putting it back in place. Landowners, not the monitoring equipment in place, discovered both the Tesoro and Belfield breaks, reports the AP.