The oil boom in North Dakota has brought with it the highest worker fatality rates in the country. Fault Lines investigates why so many are dying and who should be held responsible.
The U.S. is now the world’s largest oil and gas producer. That's in part because of what’s happening in North Dakota, where advances in fracking have unlocked crude oil in the Bakken shale formation in the western part of the state.
North Dakota is now producing more than a million barrels of oil a day. Ten years ago there were fewer than 200 oil-producing wells in the Bakken. Now there are more than 8,000.
The rapid pace of development has made North Dakota the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, but the boom has brought with it a serious problem: It has the highest worker fatality rate in the nation.
Fault Lines spent six months investigating safety risks in North Dakota’s oil fields and uncovered a dark side to the boom—the human cost.
Executive Producer: Mathieu Skene, Senior Producer: Carrie Lozano @carrielozano, Correspondent: Josh Rushing @joshrushing, Producer: Lucy Kennedy @lucymkennedy, Editor: Lindy Jankura @lindyjank, Director of Photography: Victor Suarez @tadashi_lives, Additional Photography: Omar Mullick @cerulean_blue, Associate Producer: Abdulai Bah @africandobah, Digital Producer: Nikhil Swaminathan @sw4mi, Production Managers: Shannon Stanley, Dana Merwin, Production Assistance: Emily Marie Gibson @e_mariegibson, Yousur Alhlou @YousurAlhlou, Katy Schaper @KatySchaper
More from this episode
More than 9,000 oil and gas workers filed injury claims with the state in a five-year period
An email from an aide explains stance on workforce safety in the state with the highest worker fatality rate
Roads in North Dakota once used to film car commercials are now packed with oil industry trucks
An emergency physician talks Bakken shale injuries, how companies manage worker mishaps
More on the North Dakota oil boom
Fracking has transformed the state and attracted thousands of workers, including African immigrants
One county’s infertile lands offer a test case of the long-term effects of wastewater spills