Lightning strike causes Bakken oil spill

Fire: saltwater disposal facility burns, leaks in North Dakota

A lightning strike in North Dakota sparked a fire at a saltwater disposal facility, causing hundreds of barrels of oil and brine to spill.

The state's Department of Health was notified on Monday of the fire and spill at the Helling Alexander SWD #1, owned by Dallas-based 1804 Operating and located about three miles south of the town of Alexander.

The fire caused a failure of the primary containment system, the Health Department said. This led to a spill of some 649 barrels of oil and 2813 barrels of brine.

The explosion reportedly blew the lid off one of the tanks into a nearby field.

Some of the fluids flowed off site but were contained before reaching a tributary of Lonesome Creek, the department said.

Emergency crews were letting the fire burn itself out because fighting it could make matters worse, according to local officials.

A spill response company was working to contain and recover liquids. No injuries were reported.

It was the third instance of lightning destroying a saltwater disposal facility in North Dakota in the past several weeks, according to the Associated Press. The state has about 440 such facilities in operation.

On 1 June, lightning struck a disposal facility owned by Oasis Petroleum, spilling 15 barrels of oil and 1200 barrels of brine.

Late last month, lightning hit a Basic Energy Services facility in Mountrail County spilling 580 barrels of oil and 1800 barrels of brine. Basic said it could cost as much as $2 million to clean-up and rebuild the site.


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