Five years and $93 million later, a giant oil spill in North Dakota has finally been cleaned up.
The spill of 840,000 gallons of oil from a Tesoro pipeline was found by a farmer near Tioga in the fall of 2013. Tesoro is now known as Andeavor.
The company blamed a lightning strike on causing the rupture of the pipeline which runs to a rail facility outside of Columbus near the border with Canada.
Wheat farmer Steve Jensen had smelled the crude oil for days before discovering it as he drove his combine over the leak. The leak was initially calculated by North Dakota regulators to be more than 31,000 gallons but then they changed their mind.
They estimated the affected area covered 14 acres and the cleanup has been underway ever since. Despite the efforts, less than a third of the 840,000 gallons was recovered. The cleanup, involving two thermal desorption units to cook the remaining oil from the soil will continue through the summer.
Company spokesman Destin Singleton said 1.2 million tons was excavated from the site and treated. Crews dug as deep as 60 feet to remove the oil-tainted soil.
Original estimates at the cleanup cost were $4 million but they’ve since swelled to $93 million.
The company also was fined $454,000 by the state.