North Dakota OKs Plan for Oil-Damaged Land

BISMARCK, N.D. -- The North Dakota Department of Health has approved plans to restore land damaged last fall by a pipeline break that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil across a northwestern wheat field.

The soil remediation work by Tesoro (TSO) is expected to begin by early June and take at least two years to complete, according to the plans approved Friday.

State Environmental Health Chief Dave Glatt said that the San Diego-based Tesoro, whose pipeline caused the spill, is responsible for the cleanup and will cover all costs. The Department of Health will have staff members at the site on a weekly basis to make sure it goes as planned.

The state might still look at possible enforcement action against Tesoro, and Glatt said the company could possibly be required to pay for staff time spent at the site, but that hasn't been decided yet.

The massive spill was discovered by a Tioga farmer in September and turned out to be one of the largest onshore spills in U.S. history, covering 7.3 acres of land, or about the size of seven football fields.

Glatt said Tesoro will be restoring about 350,000 square feet of surface and will excavate as deep as 30 feet below the surface in some areas.

"It's a big piece of land," he said.

When the remediation is finished, Glatt said, the land should be back to normal and able to grow crops. In the meantime, he said, the affected farmers were being compensated for their losses.

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