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North Dakota well spills oil, fracking fluid

February 18, 2014
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<photocredit>Jim Parkin/Hemera/Thinkstock</photocredit>

A hydraulic fracturing well in North Dakota started leaking fracking fluid and oil on Feb. 13, spilling an estimated 200 barrels of oil per day, according to Reuters. The well is operated by Colorado-based Whiting Petroleum Corp. and is located in McKenzie County.

The spill was contained at the location but the well had still not been brought under full control, Lynn Helms, head of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources, explained in a conference call on Friday. The company and officials were working to bring the well under control. No oil or fracking fluid had flowed into the nearby Cherry Creek but Helms added that the incident was "a big one" and noted that it presented a human health risk and was a threat to the environment.

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According to media reports, the spill occurred when a blowout preventer at the well failed, leaking between 50 and 70 barrels of fracking fluid per day along with the 200 barrels of oil. As of Friday the company was collecting the spilled fluid and removing it from the site. Officials told Reuters that the cleanup may take "a couple more days."

The situation was still not clear on Monday, Feb. 17, when calls to the state's Mineral Resources Department and Whiting Petroleum were not returned, the news agency reported.

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