After oil drilling activity caused a huge leak of saltwater near Bismarck, authorities in North Dakota are working to make sure the high-salinity mixture doesn’t make its way into surrounding waterways, according to the Associated Press. Their efforts are aimed at keeping the briny fluid from reaching the Missouri River.
So far, officials with Summit Midstream Partners, the oil company in charge of operations near the site that sits close to Blacktail Creek, have built berms to contain the saltwater spill. Those earthen barriers help to contain the spill while contaminated water is pumped out.
At the same time, state inspectors are testing soil and water quality near Blacktail Creek, and plan to continue doing so until the spring thaw. Though they may be able to keep the spill from spreading further, it’s likely that any farmland nearby will be adversely affected by the excess salt working its way into fields and streams that are used for watering.
“This saltwater stuff is devastating to the land. When this stuff gets on a farmer’s field, nothing can grow,” said Don Morrison, executive director of the Dakota Resource Council, to the AP. “This isn’t like the stuff from the ocean — it’s also full of chemicals.”