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North Dakota Keeps 100s of Oil Spills Secret

Officials hushed up massive spill in September, records show
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2013 5:05 PM CDT
North Dakota Keeps 100s of Oil Spills Secret
A hand coated in crude oil.   (AP Photo/Greenpeace, Jiang He)

(Newser) – Oil spills usually make for big news—except in North Dakota, where officials have kept mum about hundreds of leaks involving thousands of barrels of oil, Grist reports. About 750 "oil field incidents" have occurred there since January of last year, according to records obtained by the AP, and one massive 20,600-barrel spill was hushed up for nearly two weeks in September. "That's news to us," said the head of a pro-environment group in North Dakota. "The public should really know about these"

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Like other oil-producing states, North Dakota isn't legally obliged to tell people about oil spills. But the state produces millions of barrels a day and approved some 2,500 miles of new pipelines last year, so spills may be an increasing risk to farmland and water. Now exposed, state officials are contemplating a website that will inform the public of at least some spills. But a wheat farmer said he also wants to see oil companies and regulators held accountable: "Right now, you don't know if there is a spill unless you find it yourself," he said. (Read more North Dakota stories.)

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