Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2015
A case in point was the nearly three million gallons of fracking waste that spilled in January 2015 from a North Dakota pipeline.
The large spill of what the industry and North Dakota state officials repeatedly refer to as “saltwater”—from a ruptured pipeline—was reportedly the largest of its kind in North Dakota history.
No ordinary saltwater, the brine is up to eight times saltier than seawater. The waste, which leaked about 15 miles from the city of Williston, was being vacuumed up by the pipeline’s operator, Summit Midstream Partners.
Last year, scientists published several peer-reviewed papers on the hazardousness of what’s in drilling wastewater. One report found unsafe levels of barium, hexavalent chromium, copper, mercury, arsenic and antimony in the liquid. Another reported that the chemicals used in fracking, which show up in the wastewater, could potentially threaten reproductive and developmental health.
The Grand Forks Herald reported Jan. 21, 2015 that the last spill of such magnitude was in 2006, when another pipeline rupture poured at least 1 million gallons of wastewater into Charbonneau Creek near Alexander. —JL