NPR: Saltwater spills leave ND land sterile for years

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North Dakota is in the middle of a historic oil boom, producing over one million barrels of oil each day. But it’s producing a whole lot more of something else, something that's not valuable at all: saltwater, a waste product of drilling. The state has strict requirements for getting rid of the waste water. But as more and more wells are drilled, saltwater spills have increased dramatically.

According to an Inside Energy analysis of state data, in the past year there were 810 saltwater spills in North Dakota. That comes out to about five gallons of saltwater spilled per minute. And the overall spill rate -- the number of both oil and saltwater spills per well - has also gone up, nearly tripling in the past decade.


Kris Roberts has seen them all. He's an inspector for the North Dakota Department of Health, and his job is to drive around the state and look at spills.

"We have pipeline leaks, lightning strikes, leaks at oil well sites, we have illegal discharges by truckers who do not want to wait at saltwater disposal wells," he says. "If there’s a way it can happen, it probably will."

Read the full article here.