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Paul Lehto spent almost 2 years as a gas plant operator in the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota, says owner ONEOK and state regulators reported massive 11 million gallon spill as only 10 gallons for more than 4 years.Lehto is known to some listeners for his work on election integrity issues going back almost 15 years. After moving to North Dakota, he took a job as a plant operator at facilities owned by ONEOK (pronounced "One Oak") in Alexander and Garden Creek, North Dakota.
After witnessing serious safety deficiencies, Lehto quit, following an initial whistleblower who alleged that 11 million gallons of gas condensate had leaked, forming a toxic underground lake that was right under the plant at Garden Creek. The leak was discovered in July, 2015 and ONEOK reported it to state regulators as 10 gallons and only acknowledged the huge difference years later. They covered up a spill larger than the one caused by the Exxon Valdez.
Lehto says his experience was "like Homer Simpson running a nuclear power plant", and explains how he discovered that many of the nuts and bolts that secure junctions in the pipelines were never tightened, a result of shoddy construction and lack of regulatory oversight.
Near the end of the podcast, we give an update on the lawsuits aimed at blocking construction of the KeystoneXL pipeline, and we discuss the water protector protests at Standing Rock.