McKenzie County leads state in environmental incidents

MCKENZIE COUNTY, N.D. - McKenzie County had the highest number of environmental incidents in the state in 2019, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ said 420 spills were reported in McKenzie County, 234 in Williams, 146 in Mountrail, and 116 in Dunn. Those incidents ranged anywhere from a 32,000-barrel brine spill in Dunn County to other various severe-weather truck rollovers. The DEQ said 1,297 total spills were recorded in North Dakota this year; just 31 less than in 2018.

Bill Suess DEQ Spill Investigation Program Manager said, “They’ve been pretty consistent. I don’t want to say that it’s not unusual, but it’s still a significant number of spills, of course. We’d like to see that number come down.”

Suess says the good news is that now half of the oilfield spills are contained on well-pads, partly due to the North Dakota Industrial Commission recently requiring all sites to be surrounded by a six inch berm. Suess hopes the NDIC creates more regulations like that to decrease the environmental damage in 2020.