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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published December 14 2012

Crews regain control of well spraying oily mist

PARSHALL, N.D. — Crews on Friday regained control of an oil well near Parshall that had been spraying an oily mist into the air.

The cleanup process has begun, and the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources will monitor progress and require a follow-up spill report within 10 days of its completion, department spokeswoman Alison Ritter told The Forum.

The well sprayed oil, gas and water containing brine, and the mist drifted more than 2,000 feet southwest of the well before the wind shifted north.

North Dakota Department of Health environmental geologist Kris Roberts said initial cleanup efforts are focusing on the field north of the well, the area most heavily affected by mist. Lake Sakakawea, which is less than one mile to the south of the well, was not threatened, he said.

The amount of oil released is not yet known.

Kyle Waliezer, Rockies area superintendent for Slawson Exploration Co., said an equipment malfunction caused workers to lose control of the well Wednesday night. The cause is under investigation. No one was injured in the incident.

A specialized team flew in from Houston on Wednesday night.

Workers built dikes around the well to contain the spill and prevent it from getting to a drainage area that could affect the lake. Waliezer said Slawson constructs its well sites so oil can be contained on site in the event of a spill.

He said Slawson also hired a firm to monitor gas levels in the area to ensure the safety of nearby residents.

"They've done an excellent job of trying to make sure they're safe and contained," Roberts said.

The state Department of Mineral Resources and other agencies were on scene investigating. A safety officer from the Three Affiliated Tribes energy division also was monitoring the well, which lies within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.