Cleanup is underway on a spill of almost 10,000 gallons of source water south of Marmarth.
By BRYCE MARTIN | ND Group Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The spill, reported on Monday to the N.D. Dept. of Health, is the second large spill in the last two years to occur in the area from a pipeline owned by Denbury Onshore LLC. The leak occurred about six miles south of Marmarth in Bowman County at a well named CHSU 13-36ND26.
Despite the large amount of water released, Bill Suess of the Spill Investigation Program with the Dept. of Health confirmed that there is no cause for alarm because only a small amount of the water escaped off the well’s pad.
Of the nearly 10,000 gallons—or 213 barrels—Suess said only 33 barrels leaked off the site’s pad. The pad has a slope to its edges and most of the water tracked along its toe, or lowest part. The water flowed to the south and the north.
Suess said the water did not reach any nearby water sources.
“It didn’t get very far off the pad,” he explained.
Source water differs from fresh groundwater in that its sodium content is slightly higher. Source water is also far less full of contaminants than produced water, which contains chemicals from oil wells and can greatly affect nearby stock ponds, naturally occurring water sources or land.
The source water originated from a leak in a pipeline at the site, according to Suess.
Crews have been monitoring the site and are beginning cleanup. The area has been flushed and will soon be scraped.
A similar spill occurred last year near the same location.
That spill, which occurred on Sept. 1, 2014, was of 2,000 barrels—or 92,000 gallons—of source water used for enhanced oil recovery. It resulted from a leak in the Paynter Source Well’s pipeline, about four miles from the location of this week’s spill.
Karl Rockeman of the Dept. of Health said at the time that the department’s inspector was present at the site, the water had flowed into a nearby creek and, unlike the present spill, no water could be recovered.
“By the time it mixes with the water from the creek and from the precipitation, the impacts are not likely to be very severe,” Rockeman said last year.