An underground-pipeline rupture that sent a million gallons of saltwater leaking into a bay that feeds the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation’s water-supply lake could take weeks to clean up, said officials from the tribe and the pipeline company.
It was unclear how much of the leaking liquid had entered Bear Den Bay, which leads to Lake Sakakawea, the Associated Press reported. That lake supplies the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes with drinking water, but tribal officials told the newswire that none of the substance, which is 10 to 30 times saltier than seawater, had made it that far.
"We have a berm and a dike around it, around that bay area, to keep it from going into the lake," Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall told AP.
The leak began over the Fourth of July weekend, AP reported, and was discovered on Tuesday July 8. The pipeline did not have any kind of alert system installed.
Although the lake and drinking water seemed to have been spared, the spill caused damage elsewhere, said Kris Roberts, an environmental geologists at the North Dakota Department of Health.
"We've got dead trees, dead grasses, dead bushes, dying bushes," Roberts told AP.
The Park Rapids Enterprise reported a sheen on the Missouri River from the oil residue that still lines the pipe, which used to carry crude rather than the saltwater byproduct that leaked. The pipeline is owned by Aero Pipeline, LLC, a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Services Inc., a Houston company.