Death in the Bakken | WBEZ
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Reveal

Death in the Bakken

The recent oil boom in North Dakota – driven by hydraulic fracturing and advances in technology – is a big reason why the U.S. is now the world’s leader in combined oil and natural gas production.

But the boom in the Bakken shale, which stretches over North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada, has made it one of the deadliest places for workers in the country.

Reveal reporter Jennifer Gollan headed to North Dakota to examine the story of one young man’s tragic death, exposing the dangers that oil workers face. Her investigation found that deeply entrenched corporate practices and weak federal oversight have inoculated major energy producers against responsibility when workers are killed or injured, while shifting the blame to others. No energy operators that lease or own wells have been cited for worker deaths in North Dakota or Montana over the last five years, Reveal’s analysis found.

Oil companies offer financial incentives to workers for speeding up production – potentially jeopardizing their safety – and shield themselves through a web of companies to avoid paying the full cost of settlements with affected workers and their families when workers are injured or killed.

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