Aug 23, 2012

Cleanup Underway at Site of North Dakota Oil Well Blowout with OSHA investigating tragic death of a worker on site

WILLISTON, N.D. — Cleanup crews baled contaminated vegetation, scraped away affected soil and power washed equipment Monday after an oil well blowout south of here that sprayed oil and salt water into nearby fields.

Meanwhile, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a worker who was struck by a pickup as a worker drove it away from the spewing oil.

The blowout, which sprayed 400 barrels of oil and 400 barrels of produced water used for hydraulic fracturing, is not believed to have contaminated water sources, said Kris Roberts, an environmental geologist with the North Dakota Department of Health Division of Water Quality.

However, the cleanup contractor expanded the perimeter of the affected area because workers were seeing vegetation that was wilting and turning brown, Roberts said. The area that was most heavily affected is estimated to be about 30 to 40 acres. A mist of oil and salt water is believed to have extended no further than a mile in opposite directions of the well, affecting crop and pasture land.

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