An oil well in North Dakota was leaking fracking fluids after a blowout on Thursday, Reuters reports. The well was out of control after a blowout preventer failed. A company spokesman estimated the well was leaking between 50 and 70 barrels of fracking fluid per day.
The leak occurred near Cherry Creek in McKenzie County. According to the well owner, Whiting Petroleum Corp., the leak was contained and fracking fluids were being collected and trucked from the site. The company also said that none of the fluid entered the water.
“The well is not under control,” Kris Roberts, a spokesman for the North Dakota Department of Health, said on Friday afternoon. “They’re still diverting what’s flowing from the well into storage tanks and hauling that.”
In a conference call, Lynn Helms, the head of North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources, said that an oily mist had sprayed onto the frozen Cherry Creek and that a 3-foot blockade had been placed around the area to contain the leaking fracking fluid.
“The well is still not under control. It may take a couple more days,” Helms said on Friday. “This is a large [blowout] and also a health and human risk, it’s a big one. Pressure and control of a well is essentially priority number one for oil and gas companies.”
The blowout in North Dakota is just one of several leaks and explosions related to the hydrocarbon industry that have occurred during the past few weeks. Last week in Pennsylvania, a natural gas well exploded, leaving one person injured and one missing.
The well, owned by Chevron, was fracked last spring, according to workers at the site. The resulting fire was left to burn as fire companies responding to the scene knew they would not be able to extinguish it. It took five days for the massive fire to burn out.
According to The Raw Story, on Sunday, Chevron Appalachia Community Outreach sent a pizza gift certificate to residents living within the vicinity of the exploded well, presumably to make up for the incident. The letter reads:
We are sorry to have missed you. We wanted to provide you with a status update on the February 11 incident that occurred on Chevron’s Appalachia’s Lancoe 7 H well pads in Dunkard Township and see if you had any questions or concerns that we could address.
Chevron recognizes the effect this has had on the community. We value being a responsible member of this community and will continue to strive to achieve incident-free operations. We are committed to taking action to safeguard our neighbors, our employees, our contractors and the environment.
If you have any questions, please call our toll-free community line at 1-877-847-8408.
Chevron Community Outreach Team
“Due to cutbacks of safety regulations as well as companies who put profit over human health and the protection of the environment, we will continue to see more spills and explosions, as evidenced by the extensive number of incidents we have seen in just the past month,” said Mike Papantonio, host of Ring of Fire and a senior partner with the Florida law firm of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty, and Proctor.
North Dakota is home to the Bakken Shale formation. Over the past decade, fracking has caused a boom in oil production in the region, making North Dakota the fourth largest oil-producing state in the US.
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.