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Letter: Don't force reporting of tiny, contained oil spills

Earlier this week, the North Dakota House passed HB1151, which would stop the state Industrial Commission from requiring the report of most spills that are less than 10 barrels and contained at the site.

This would bring North Dakota's mandatory reporting requirements up to the same level as the Feds.

I know the opponents of this proposal are thinking, "every oil spill is a bad spill." Really, though, is it?

I grew up on a North Dakota farm. I saw oil spills, chemical leaks and fertilizer spills, all contained within the confines of our homestead.

My father was meticulously careful with any work he did in the farm, and especially careful with potentially hazardous materials. But in spite of all of the attention he gave to safety, spills still happened. Spills WILL happen; they're inevitable when you're working with oil.

My question is, should Dad have been required to report every oil spill, no matter if it was three drops or three gallons? Wasn't what was really important was that every spill—no matter how large or small—was cleaned up properly, completely and immediately?

The proposed law is where we start to separate the drops from the tanker trucks. The reporting change applies only to spills in an engineered containment; but still, any spill must still be cleaned up.

These sites already are inspected monthly by the state, and any amount leaving the containment still must be immediately reported.

The men and women who work at these sites are trained to handle and react to any number of emergencies, including spills. I have been out on the sites and was so impressed by their professionalism and commitment to safety and regulations.

Let's not waste these workers' valuable time by forcing them to report each and every oil spill. I encourage the Senate to pass HB1151.

Meg Morley

Grand Forks

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