The byproducts from drilling underground come in the form of a wastewater brine which energy companies will store and skim residual oil from. North Dakota’s energy boom has come with a rise in these storage tanks which have extremely lackadaisical regulations for. Labeling this waste as “water” is about the same as labeling crack cocaine as a “pick-me-up”.
The briney waste is about 10-30 times more salty than seawater and it makes keeping the water stored in metal containers problematic and costly for the corrosion. So, the geniuses decided to fix their problem with fiberglass tanks and tank-liners. The only problem there is that the lightning-prone drilling rigs and equipment tend to bring more lightning strikes around these tanks, and fiberglass tanks don’t sit idly when struck by lightning. They explode.
(from the AP)
The fires destroyed nearly all of the storage tanks at the three North Dakota sites that have been struck since the start of June.
Only three of the 14 tanks were left standing after the fire at the site near Ross, where the roughly 24,360 gallons of oil was spilled or burned off and about 75,600 gallons of brine was spilled, according to the state. Alan Krenek, the chief financial officer for the site’s owner, Basic Energy Services, said it is standard procedure for the Fort Worth, Texas-based company to install lightning protection systems at its sites, but that it hadn’t been installed yet at that one.
The tanks might last longer when they are made with fiberglass, but energy companies have created a series of time-bombs in their rush to tighten operations for the most profit. Even lightning rod systems have failed to stop the destruction at two locations in North Dakota and the land will be affected for several generations into the future.
We can easily compare this current treatment of land for the sake of energy to the largely unregulated mining booms that happened as Americans expanded into the West. Areas like Arizona’s Mohave County have been blaming their own health problems on “chem-trails” and refuse to examine the historic mining sites which poisoned the land and were never dealt with. The boom in fracking and oil production will only create more of these destructive byproducts, and there is an urgency starting to build around better regulations for the safety and health of Americans and American resources.
Here is a bit of a short documentary on the start of the oil boom in Williston, North Dakota