WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Carstensen Contracting of Pipestone, Minnesota, was installing a water pipeline when it struck a natural gas pipeline owned by Oneok, a natural gas company. This isn’t the first time a mistake like this was made by Carstensen.
According to the Bismarck Tribune, authorities estimate that the pipeline released some 126,000 gallons worth of natural gas. The accident caused the nearby Oneok’s Bear Creek natural gas processing plant to be shut down for 3 days.
The Public Service Commission (PSC), charged with investigating these kinds of accidents, stated that while no one has called about a complaint in relation to this line strike, it will continue to investigate.
Apparently this isn’t the first time that Carstensen Contracting has been written up for hitting another piece of pipeline infrastructure. An incident in Williston resulted in over $294,000 loss of profits for the pipeline, also owned by Oneok. Carstensen was fined by the PSC $15,000 for the accident, which violated North Dakota’s One Call law. However, this amount was later reduced by $5,000, under the condition that the company commit no further violations within five years. The violation occurred when Carstensen failed to call the 811 number 48 hours before excavation. The number was only called 4 hours after the company struck the pipeline underneath the site. This accident caused a local homeowner to have to evacuate the area.
Another accident occurred in Fort Dodge, Iowa, reported on by the Fort Dodge’s paper The Messenger, where the company struck four gas lines and three water lines, as well as an overhead electrical line and phone line while putting in place a sanitary sewer.
The Bismarck Tribune reported that Carstensen has taken steps since the accident occurred by putting a safety coordinator on the project full time and adding a foreman with a greater amount of boring experience.
Both Fort Dodge and Watford City have stated that they went with Carstensen Contracting because the company was the lowest bidder.