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291 oil spills were hidden from North Dakota residents - in less than two years!

North Dakota

(NaturalNews) When it comes to the general public being kept in the loop about matters relating to major environmental hazards, the residents of North Dakota are perhaps the most slighted of all by their own state government. A major oil and natural gas region of the country, North Dakota has had hundreds of oil spill accidents over the years that have caused noteworthy environmental destruction, but none of them, save for one, was ever reported.

Data compiled by the Associated Press (AP) shows that during the time frame from January 2012 to September 2013, North Dakota saw nearly 300 oil pipeline spills – 292 to be exact. Only one of these, which involved a tanker truck accident, was ever made public – the rest were kept secret, presumably to protect North Dakota's oil industry, a major economic driver for this rural Midwestern state.

Truth be told, there were actually somewhere in the ballpark of 750 "oil field incidents" that took place during this period in North Dakota without corresponding media coverage. Many of these were "small" spills, reports claim, but they still collectively resulted in some 4,328 barrels of oil being leached into soil and presumably groundwater sources, though officials privy to the details claim that no wildlife or water sources were harmed.

The fact that these folks never bothered to notify the public, though, suggests that there's more to the story than just "nothing to see here, now move along." If all this spilled oil somehow evaporated before hitting the earth, then why not allay public concern and just fess up about it? According to officials, the answer is that it's better to just keep quiet about "little incidents," lest all those people with concerns about drilling operations become "overwhelmed."

"Right now, you don't know if there is a spill unless you find it yourself," stated Louis Kuster, a North Dakota wheat farmer, to the AP.

North Dakotans: we need to know about the spills

Kuster's livelihood depends on having access to clean water and healthy soils, two things that are seriously threatened by the prospect of oil spills. For the most part, Kuster says he's well-rounded in his knowledge about local happenings, except when it comes to the actions of oil companies. In this regard, everything is kept under lock and key.

"What you don't know, nobody is going to tell you," he added."

Kuster and his neighbors aren't convinced that oil spills like those that have occurred throughout North Dakota are harmless to the environment, either. They all say they observed at least one incident in which truckloads of what appeared to be oil-tainted dirt were being hauled off from a nearby property. The incident was believed to have involved a broken oil pipeline, but nobody knows for sure.

"We have no idea how big the spill is and why it happened," he told reporters. "I'd try to get more information from the state but I'm too busy getting my harvest in."

In the interest of protecting not only local residents but the rest of the country that eats food grown in potentially tainted soils, it's critical that North Dakotans and people from other states where oil pipelines are present be kept in the loop about spills. It's unacceptable, say independent experts, for the government to withhold this information from the public.

While some officials claim that reporting on every "little" incident would be too much, those on the ground living in these areas disagree. They continue to push for reforms that would force regulatory agencies to provide full disclosure on all issues involving oil and natural gas, for the benefit of everyone.




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