Lightning struck the Helling Saltwater Disposal site three miles south of Alexander, ND, Monday causing a leak of 649 barrels of oil and 2,813 barrels of saltwater after a containment system failed.

Tuesday morning, there was a dark plume of black smoke visible for miles from the site as workers from Absorbent and Safety Solutions, a spill response company, were working to contain and recover oil and saltwater released. By midday, thick smoke gave way to a fire.

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As a result of the fire, the site’s primary containment system failed, allowing the release of saltwater and oil, according to a statement released by the state Department of Health.

When that happened 649 barrels of oil and 2,813 barrels of saltwater released, said McKenzie County, ND, Emergency Manager Jerry Samuelson. There were no injuries.

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The site, owned and operated by 1804 Operating, contained 11 tanks, consisting of nine saltwater and two oil. All of the tanks ended up destroyed and payloaders were at the site building berms to try to contain the saltwater, Samuelson said.

Some of the fluids flowed off the site but ended up contained before reaching a tributary of Lonesome Creek, the Department of Health said.

Samuelson said the fire at the disposal site will burn itself out, with monitoring done by emergency response personnel.

State Department of Health personnel are inspecting the site and will work with the company on remediation.

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