- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The company responsible for a 30,000-gallon oil spill into Montana’s Yellowstone River in January can’t be trusted to build and operate a proposed crude oil pipeline in southwestern North Dakota, according to a coalition of labor groups.

Officials with Laborers International Union of North America said they will testify in opposition to Bridger Pipeline LLC’s proposed project at a public hearing Thursday by North Dakota’s Public Service Commission in Belfield.

Bridger, part of the True Cos., based in Casper, Wyoming, wants to construct the 15-mile long pipeline in Billings and Stark counties. The $10 million project would place a 16-inch diameter pipeline next to an existing pipeline operated by the company.

A spokesman for the labor group said its opposition to the project isn’t because the company would use non-union labor to construct it.

“This has nothing to do with our union, non-union controversies,” Evan Whiteford told the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1MhGw0h ). “We’re taking a stand for the industry, to protect the industry. We’re 100 percent supportive of pipelines.”

Bridger Pipeline officials did not immediately return phone messages for comment Tuesday from The Associated Press.

January’s breach by the company’s pipeline temporarily fouled water supplies for thousands of people downstream in Glendive, Montana. Only about 2,500 gallons of crude were recovered from the Yellowstone River.

Whiteford, of Ray, said that spill is only the most recent example of the company’s bad track record. Black Hills Trucking Inc., which also is part of True Cos., was fined $200,000 last year by North Dakota regulators for operating without a proper license since 2008.

North Dakota Public Service Commission chairwoman Julie Fedorchak told the newspaper that she also wondered whether the opposition to the pipeline proposal centered around non-union labor.

She said it’s the duty of the three-member regulatory panel to look at projects individually and not make a decision based solely on past incidents of a company.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com


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