BISMARCK, N.D. — A Minnesota contractor who damaged a natural gas pipeline in western North Dakota last week has a history of striking pipelines.

The most recent damage occurred while Carstensen Contracting was installing a water pipeline near Watford City. The incident caused the release of 126,000 gallons of natural gas liquids and shut down a gas processing plant for three days. No one was hurt.

It’s at least the second gas pipeline the contractor has damaged in North Dakota while installing water pipelines, The Bismarck Tribune reported . The North Dakota Public Service Commission recently fined the Minnesota-based company $15,000 in another incident from 2015.

City leaders in Fort Dodge, Iowa, also parted ways with Carstensen last summer after the contractor hit 20 underground utility lines while working on a sewer project.

President Brad Carstensen said the company took the necessary steps to locate underground pipelines in the most recent incident and that it’s investigating what happened.

“It’s a very, very dense area for underground pipelines, gas and oil pipelines,” Carstensen said.

The commission is also investigating the incident. A consent agreement Carstensen reached with the agency this spring over the 2015 incident included removing $5,000 of the fine on the condition that the company didn’t commit any further violations within five years.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus said regulators haven’t received a complaint about the most recent incident, but that the commission plans to consider requiring the rest of the fine or filing a new complaint if the company is found at fault.

“We will be taking a very close look at it,” Kroshus said.

Kroshus said the leading cause of pipeline spills are third-party damages.


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