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Natural gas released from McKenzie County well after mechanical failure

WATFORD CITY, N.D.  – An unknown volume of natural gas released from a well in McKenzie County this week after a mechanical failure caused crews to lose control of the well, the North Dakota Department of Health said Thursday, Oct. 13.

A Continental Resources well about 10 miles north of Watford City was releasing natural gas and other hydrocarbons from about 10 a.m. until  it was stabilized around 7 p.m. Tuesday after a blowout valve malfunctioned, said Bill Suess, spill investigations program manager.

No one was hurt in the incident and no water sources were affected. The release was primarily natural gas. The spill is under investigation to determine how much oil and produced water were released and the extent of the impact, Suess said.

Law enforcement and the county emergency manager blocked traffic from the area until the well was stabilized.

“If that had ignited, that could have been an issue,” Suess said. “We got pretty lucky on this one. The wind kind of was in our favor on that.”

The release affected an area about 500 yards off the well pad, including trees, Suess said. Health department officials will work with the company on cleanup plans.

Continental Resources spokeswoman Kristin Thomas said the situation is under control and the company continues to cooperate with state agencies.