The latest oil spill in North Dakota has become the most costly to date and the result of an energy industry that has long struggled to maintain its infrastructure amid the recession and the increasing demand for energy in the country.
The spill, which took place on the surface of a shallow lake in the state’s Lower Brule district, triggered an evacuation of nearly a dozen communities and forced the evacuation of the nearby town of Whitefish.
The pipeline operator, Energy Transfer Partners, said Thursday that the company had lost $8 million in revenue due to the spill, and said it has a backlog of $10 million in repair work and would need another $15 million to $20 million before it can resume operations.
The incident was the third major spill in less than two years, with spills in the U.K. in 2015 and Pennsylvania in 2015, both of which resulted in major damage to infrastructure and forced closures.
A federal court ordered a federal investigation into the spill and the damage to the state of North Dakota in 2017.
The oil company also has been sued in court by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which contends the pipeline breached its treaty rights by advancing beyond its land and destroying sacred sites.
The federal court has yet to decide whether to take any action on that suit.