May 5, 2014

A tiger by the tail?

Health department prepared for ‘big spill’

By STU MERRY

BHG news service

Is the State of North Dakota ready for the big spill? State Department of Health officials think so.

Speaking to the Friends of Lake Sakakawea at the group’s board meeting this past Thursday was Dave Glott, chief of environmental services with the State Department of Health.

Friends chairman Terry Fleck asked the big question: "Are we ready to respond to the big spill?"

Glott responded: "It’s a question we get asked a lot … you are never totally prepared. That being said, we do what we can to make sure we have trained staff."

Glott told Friends board members a majority of the oil companies are on board in case a spill takes place on the lake. Training exercises take place to make sure there’s a coordinated effort in case that big spill occurs.

"The sooner you get to the spill the sooner it’s cut off," he said. "That said, accidents are going to happen and we have to continue to look at the gaps. We are looking at placing equipment in strategic locations around the lake."

Glott admits there are challenges at the break-neck pace of activity taking place in the oil play. He said it’s important to involve tribal officials, too, so that if something happens all are on board.

State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who attended the Friends meeting, called Lake Sakakawea one of North Dakota’s extraordinary places.

"You confirmed it, Friends chairman Terry Fleck told Stenehjem. Lake Sakakawea is the crown jewel.


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