- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A Bottineau County couple has sued an energy company for allegedly failing to clean up repeated oil wastewater spills on their land.

Daryl and Christine Peterson say Petro Harvester Operating Co. is responsible for 10 spills since 2011 that have polluted cropland, wetlands and groundwater. The couple said some of their land in the north of the state is sterile and can no longer be farmed. They are seeking an undetermined amount in damages and want the land cleaned up.

Gary Watson, a Petro Harvester vice president, told the Bismarck Tribune on Friday (https://bit.ly/1UCv6ee ) that the company hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and had no comment.

The lawsuit describes Petro Harvester’s conduct as “undertaken with reckless disregard of the law and Petersons’ rights. This conduct was oppressive and malicious.”

The state Department of Health and the North Dakota Industrial Commission are jointly responsible for ensuring that the site is cleaned up.

Dave Glatt, the state environmental health head, said the company’s initial cleanup efforts didn’t work but that it has submitted a new plan to clean up the site, which he hopes will begin this summer.

“The landowner would always like things to move faster and I understand that,” Glatt said. “We’re sensitive to that and working with the company to get the right plan in place.”

Derrick Braaten, an attorney for the Petersons, believes the government won’t do enough.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to continue putting resources into these agencies,” Braaten said. “We’re going to court to get it done ourselves.”

Braaten said he thinks the lawsuit reflects the larger issue of “a lack of enforcement” by the agencies.

“The end result is to get the land cleaned up to the way it was before and make the Petersons whole again,” Braaten said


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

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