July 17, 2014

Clean up operations on Bear Den Bay

By Jerry W. Kram

Clean up operations are likely to continue for months on a major brine spill on Bear Den Bay about seven miles northeast of Mandaree.

A pipeline owned by Crestwood Midstream Partners was discovered leaking on Tuesday, July 8. The spill had been going on for some time as the brine had traveled down a steep ravine nearly two miles to Bear Den Bay, which is a part of Lake Sakakawea. According to West Segment Representative Randy Phelan, the brine came very close to running into the lake, but its progress had been slowed by three beaver dams on the coulee.

Aerial photos taken by Sarah Christianson, a documentary photographer from eastern North Dakota, show a long, brown path of dead and dying vegetation following the length of the watershed. She is photographing the impacts of the current and past oil booms on the landscape of North Dakota. Her website is at sarahchristianson.com/.

"I was struck that this spill was right along a major freshwater drinking source," Christianson said. "The siting these wells and pipelines is questionable. It’s alarming that a spill of this magnitude happened in this area."

The bay is close to the intake for the water system for Mandaree, which was temporarily closed. Phelan said water samples for the system are being taken every day and there is no danger of contamination at this time.

"We have our water checked every day," Phelan said. "Every day we get a test sample. We are back on our main source and our drinking water is good."

The Weather Network