Oil companies pay $12.5M in fines for spills in North Dakota and Montana

(Fargo, ND) -- Belle Fourche Pipeline Company and Bridger Pipeline LLC have agreed to pay a $12.5 million civil penalty to resolve claims under the Clean Water Act and Pipeline Safety Laws relating to oil spills in Montana and North Dakota.

“These spills impacted iconic Western watersheds that communities in Montana and North Dakota depend upon,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker.   “EPA will continue to hold companies accountable for spills that threaten human health, drinking water, recreation and fisheries and ensure they take meaningful measures to prevent future incidents.”

Belle Fourche’s Bicentennial Pipeline ruptured in 2016 in Billings County, North Dakota.

The pipeline traversed a steep hillside above an unnamed tributary to Ash Coulee Creek – which feeds into the Little Missouri River – when the slope failed.

The size of the North Dakota spill was exacerbated by Belle Fourche’s failure to detect the spill until it was reported by a local landowner.

Belle Fourche’s cleanup of the North Dakota spill site is ongoing with oversight by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality.

 In 2015, Bridger’s Poplar Pipeline ruptured where it crosses under the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Montana.

The pipeline crossing had been installed using the “trench-cut” method.

The pipeline failed after being exposed due to river scour.

Bridger has completed its cleanup of the Montana spill site, and Bridger and the State of Montana separately resolved claims under Montana state law.