Tesoro refuses to answer any questions about Tioga Oil Spill
Unedited Media heard about the Tioga oil spill just like everyone else — 11 days after it happened. It took eleven days for the biggest inland oil spill to be known to the public.
The spill was eight miles north of Tioga, North Dakota and the media collective hadn’t seen much in the way of photographs or video. Unedited Media journalists decided to travel to Western North Dakota. They traveled along rutted dirt roads grooved by vehicles and flanked by frack wells.
The journalists had the general location of the spill but they smelled it before they saw it. The Unedited Media team followed the scent of oil to a wide open field of recently harvested wheat. The site was about 300 yards from the road where 3 excavators sat behind tall mounds of earth. They arrived to site of the 20,600 barrel oil spill.
The team Walked up to the site of the spill hoping to ask questions and take photos/video of the spill. When the journalists walked halfway through the field of wheat stalks 3 people appeared on the mounds of black soil and pointed at them.
The journalists declared themselves and waved to draw attention and walked toward where the Tesoro workers stood.
A gentlemen in a Tesoro helmet walked up to team. At this point the Tesoro worker started repeating, “Please get off the site, you’re not authorized to be on the site.”
The team complied and one asked, ”okay, if you’d let me know where the site started and stopped, we’d be happy to move there.”
He continued to repeat his command.
Our team of journalists moved back off the excavated mounds of dirt that spilled onto the wheat field and asked him a string of questions.
“Where can we stand to document the spill?”
“You need to get off site, you’re not authorized to be on the site.”
Our media team complied and moved back with him some distance from the site.
“Can you let me know how to get authorization.., Is there a phone number?”
“You need to get off the site, you’re not authorized to be on the site.”
At this point the team of journalists were pushed back nearly 100 yards from the site of the spill.
“Is there a press or PR person I could talk to?”
“You need to get off the site you’re not authorized to be on the site.”
During the one-sided conversation the Tesoro worker was asked to calm down, because he seemed agitated. When the encounter began the United Media journalists did nothing but announce themselves as journalists, and comply with the commands of the worker.
The Tesoro worker demanded that the journalists go back toward the road, and gave them no information on how to contact a press or PR person. He gave no information about how to access the site in order to document it even after both clearly stated that they are journalists. We stated our intentions to document the site for the public to see and we were given no information as to how to access the site to accomplish that goal. The worker even went so far as to step in front of the journalists cameras and use his hand to shield us from documenting the Tesoro oil spill. The Tesoro worker demanded that we “put our camera down and go off site.”
Unedited Media brought their cameras to document the biggest oil spill on United States soil. The two journalists declared themselves, stated their intentions and Tesoro responded by forcing them away from the site of the spill.
Tesoro’s behaviour on Saturday October 13th, 2013, demonstrated that Tesoro was uninterested in cooperating with Unedited Media’s journalists. Tesoro claims accountability, but accountability to whom? Tesoro still continues to hold spill information close and away from the public. A public who waited for eleven days to learn about the biggest inland oil spill in United States history. A spill that shows the real risks and consequences of pipelines. Pipelines that companies like Tesoro continue to claim are safe, but overnight can burst destroying the land around them and when pipelines burst companies like Tesoro seem to make every attempt to hide the information from the public.
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