Officials said Wednesday they are still cleaning up an oil spill that was discovered after a wildfire moved through part of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota.
Enbridge Energy officials arrived and inspected the company's pipeline late Saturday morning after a wildfire had burned a 25-acre area just east of Deer River the day before, Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Grymala said.
Workers found what appeared to be crude oil on the ground and later discovered a small crack in the pipeline that had caused five barrels, or about 210 gallons, of crude oil to leak out, Grymala said.
"When they were investigating what damage the fire had done, they noticed there was a substance on the ground," she said.
Officials believe the leak was recent but that it was there before the fire. Grymala said the fire just happened to cross the line.
The spill was quickly contained with oil-absorbent booms, Grymala said, and Enbridge officials were working with local officials and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on further cleanup.
"It wasn't there very long, so it didn't saturate very long," Grymala said.
But at least one organization raised concerns about the spill. The Indigenous Environmental Network said in a news release that the leak showed that Enbridge's pipeline is old and susceptible to leaks.
Marty Cobenais, an organizer with the group, said the pipeline is about 60 years old. He said reservation members have seen places on the pipeline that appear in bad shape.
"It's very disturbing to see particularly when you consider that there is now a new lease allowing the pipeline to remain in place for another 20 years," he said.
Grymala said Enbridge officials are looking at recent data to see if there are any other leaks or other problems along the line.