About 15 workers ended up forced to evacuate from the location of an out-of-control Whiting Petroleum oil well five miles southwest of Watford City, ND, Thursday afternoon.
McKenzie County Emergency Manager Jerry Samuelson said no fire or explosion occurred, but oil and water blew a plume from the well until the company was able to divert the flow into its nearby storage tanks.
The well lost control after a blowout preventer failed and was leaking between 50 and 70 barrels per day of fracking fluid that contains chemicals, water and sand, a company spokesman said.
The 15 workers temporarily ended up removed from the site by school bus to ensure their safety, Samuelson said. Whiting officials were not immediately available.
Samuelson said the company planned to use tank storage for well fluids and bring in trucks to prevent any overflow.
Kris Roberts, state Health Department environmental geologist, said an inspector will go to the site. He said they will not know the volume of well fluids involved until the well ends up closed back in and they can read the gauges.
“Right now, it’s just a mad scramble out there trying to get it closed in,” Roberts said.