wastewater

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Way up in northern North Dakota lies an old oilfield with a problem 60 years in the making.

It’s noticeable on farmers’ land, like the fields harvested by Clarke Stevens near the small town of Glenburn.

His wheat fields span far across the prairie. In the middle is a 3-acre patch of barren soil.

“We’re always farming around areas like this, and every year they continue to grow,” Stevens said.

This is the site of an old brine pit. Decades ago, trucks took this salty wastewater — produced alongside oil from nearby wells — and dumped it into this pit.

A lightning strike earlier this week in western North Dakota’s oil patch led to a large spill at a saltwater disposal site.

Lightning struck the site Monday night near Grassy Butte, about 15 miles from where firefighters have spent the first half of the week battling a wildfire.

 

The lightning caused a separate fire that burned through 18 tanks, according to the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.

 

Oil and gas production creates waste that can wreak havoc on farmland and pose health risks.

A new series of maps from the Western Organization of Resource Councils shows locations for waste spills and disposal facilities in North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Montana.