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Published December 04, 2013, 12:36 PM

Saltwater leak on Montana-North Dakota border cleaned up

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Texas company has completed cleanup of a massive saltwater spill on the Montana-North Dakota border, regulators said Wednesday.

By: JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Texas company has completed cleanup of a massive saltwater spill on the Montana-North Dakota border, regulators said Wednesday.

Plano,Texas-based Denbury Onshore reported 714,000-gallon spill from a 4-inch plastic pipeline in southeast Montana on Nov. 25, said John Gizicki, a compliance specialist with the Montana Board of Oil and Gas. The company used huge vacuums to suck up the salty water over the past week and then flushed the affected area with fresh water, he said. Saltwater is a byproduct of oil production.

"Everything is within the allowable limits now," Gizicki said.

The North Dakota Health Department said the briny water reached the Big Gumbo Creek and flowed downstream 1.4 miles into a rural area of Bowman County, about 14 miles south of Marmarth.

North Dakota Water Quality Director Dennis Fewless said the salty water did not reach the nearby Little Missouri River, which is fed by the creek.

Fewless said North Dakota officials have been taking water quality samples at the creek and at the Little Missouri River for the past week.

"We are satisfied on this side of the boarder also that it has been cleaned up," Fewless said Wednesday.

Regulators in both states said no drinking water sources were threatened and the area affected by the spill would continue to be monitored through spring.

Denbury officials did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

Fewless said the saltwater spill was among the largest reported in North Dakota. In 2006, a broken pipeline spewed more than a million gallons of saltwater into a northwestern North Dakota creek, aquifer and pond. Cleanup efforts along Charbonneau Creek are ongoing, eight years after the spill.

The pipeline's owner, Oklahoma-based Zenergy Inc., has excavated tons of salt-tainted soil and hauled millions of gallons of briny water from the area, but the cleanup has proved tougher than initially thought, Fewless said.

The saltwater that spilled into Charbonneau Creek was about 10 times saltier than ocean water, Fewless said. The saltwater that spilled along the Montana-North Dakota border was only half as salty as seawater, he said.

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