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Remediation of Keystone Pipeline spill site in northeast North Dakota nears completion

TC Energy cleanup crews are expected to return to the spill site in late spring to finish remediation. A fine has yet to be determined for the Canada-based pipeline company, but DEQ Director Dave Glatt said the company has been cooperative.

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TC Energy reported an oil spill in the rural Edinburg area, about 30 miles northwest of Grafton, N.D., on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Submitted photo

The site of the Keystone Pipeline oil spill outside Edinburg, N.D., which weeks ago was abuzz with activity and TC Energy cleanup crews, has quieted substantially as remediation nears completion.

According to a Department of Environmental Quality report, a Feb. 27 inspection of the site found that excavation was completed and the site had been partially backfilled, with stacks of topsoil waiting to be spread. The report noted that there was no sign of contamination or current work being done at the site.

TC Energy spokesperson Sara Rabern said crews are now waiting for warmer weather to finish the final stages of remediation. She estimates cleanup will be completed by late spring.

The cause of the Oct. 29 spill, which released about 383,000 gallons of crude oil onto about five acres of land, has yet to be determined, according to the incident report. The release was one of the largest onshore oil spills in the U.S. in the last decade.

Because the spill impacted wetlands, it automatically resulted in a fine from the Department of Environmental Quality. DEQ officials had their first meeting with representatives from TC Energy, formerly TransCanada Energy, to discuss enforcement action on Feb. 4. The results of that meeting and information about enforcement will remain confidential until an agreement between the parties has been reached, but DEQ Director Dave Glatt told the Herald the meeting was "very cordial."

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"I can't give you the details, but it was just a good discussion and a path forward," Glatt said. "Now we're waiting on a little information from the company, but I don't think this will be a long, protracted enforcement action. I think it should be closed up pretty quick."

Glatt said it doesn't appear TC Energy will fight the DEQ's penalty with legal action, and he said he expects enforcement to be settled just between the two parties.

Overall, Glatt said TC Energy has been cooperative and responsive since the October oil spill.

"It was a good meeting," he said of the Feb. 4 meeting. "We got good cooperation with the company. We don't really see any issues here. They responded well, took care of the issue right away, put a lot of resources to it, and we were happy with the response."

Dave Glatt
Dave Glatt, the environmental health section chief for the Department of Health, talks Thursday, July 18, 2013, about the state's efforts to crack down on oil waste in western North Dakota. (TJ Jerke/Forum News Service)

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