Fine pending for TC Energy's oil spill that contaminated 4.8 acres of land outside Edinburg
Past oil spills in North Dakota have resulted in fines ranging from a couple thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars, but at this point in the process, it's difficult to know where in that range the Edinburg spill will fall, DEQ officials said.
TC Energy has not yet been fined for the Keystone Pipeline oil spill outside Edinburg in October, but it will be, a North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality official said.
The Oct. 29 Keystone Pipeline spill released about 383,000 gallons of crude oil and is estimated to have contaminated about 4.8 acres of land. The cause of the spill remains under investigation.
DEQ Director Dave Glatt said that, because the spill came into contact with a wetlands area, it resulted in an automatic notice of violation. Penalties for oil spills are determined on a case-by-case basis, and Glatt said he expects the process to take a couple months.
DEQ Spill Investigations program manager Bill Seuss said a number of factors are taken into account before the amount of a fine is determined, including how much oil was spilled, how much damage it caused, how quickly the company reported the spill and responded to the scene and how fast the spill was contained.
Glatt said past spills in North Dakota have resulted in fines ranging from a couple thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars, but Suess said, at this point in the process, it's difficult to know where in that range the Edinburg spill might fall.
"Every spill is unique," Suess said. "Everything has its own set of conditions and that, to compare it to anything, it's hard to say that anything was similar."
Now that DEQ has notified Canada-based TC Energy of the violation, Glatt said the company has about a month to respond to the allegations. From there, DEQ officials will sit down with TC Energy officials to discuss enforcement until a penalty is agreed upon.
Glatt underscored that, while not every oil spill results in a fine, spills that come into contact with water are automatically fined. He added that the chance of contamination to the groundwater in the Edinburg spill is very low, however.
"I don't see that as being a concern, because they got to it quickly, or quickly enough, and they dug out the contaminated soil," he said.